Roopa Mahadevan - Classical Carnatic Vocal
Anjna Swaminathan - Violin
Abhinav Seetharaman - Mridangam
Roopa Mahadevan is a versatile vocalist, grounded in the South Indian classical (Carnatic) tradition. Raised in California, she received her major formative Carnatic training under Asha Ramesh of the D.K. Jayaraman bani and later pursued a Fulbright scholarship in India for study under Suguna Varadachari, a respected guru of the Musiri Subramania Iyer tradition. Roopa is one of the leading American-born South Asian performers of Carnatic music in the diaspora – having performed in numerous venues in the US and India, including the prestigious Music Academy during the December season in Chennai and Cleveland Thyagaraja Aradhana which awarded her the title “Kala Ratna.”
Roopa is a trained South Indian Classical (Bharatanatyam) dancer and a sought-after vocalist for leading Bharathanatyam and crossover/contemporary dancers around the world. Roopa also enjoys performing R&B/soul music and theater. She has lent her voice to two urban/R&B music albums and was lead vocalist for a track on the album Calling All Dawns which won the 2011 Grammy for Best Crossover Classical Album. Roopa also enjoyed a show-stealing role as actress/dancer/singer for Bakwas Bumbug, a South Asian musical theater production in New York City and has participated in many performance theater projects with local dancer/choreographers. Roopa has performed with ensembles in venues such as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Hollywood Bowl, and the UN. She was an inaugural fellow of IndianRaga and is a core performer in New York’s Brooklyn Raga Massive.
Roopa is currently based in New York City, where she is the artistic director of the choir Navatman Music Collective. She recently completed a successful tour of India with her new ensemble Roopa In Flux. Roopa graduated with a Bachelor’s in Biology and Master’s in Psychology from Stanford University and enjoys working in public health policy when she is not artist-ing. Roopa is an advocate for using art as a tool for culture change, to celebrate difference, form communities, and advance the momentum toward social justice.
Anjana Swaminathan is a versatile artist in the field of South Indian Carnatic Violin. A disciple of the late violin maestro Parur Sri M.S. Gopalakrishnan and Mysore Sri H.K. Narasimhamurthy, she performs regularly in Carnatic, Hindustani and creative music settings. In the summer of 2014, Anjna was a participant at the celebrated Banff International Workshop in Jazz and Creative Music in Alberta, Canada, where she worked closely with eminent jazz and creative musicians and led workshops on the fundamentals of Carnatic improvisation and listening. She has since performed with and been encouraged by established musicians in New York's thriving creative music scene including Jen Shyu, Vijay Iyer, Tyshawn Sorey, Amir ElSaffar, Imani Uzuri, Stephan Crump, Graham Haynes, Mat Maneri, Miles Okazaki and others. Anjna is a member of the ensemble RAJAS, led by her sister, percussionist-composer Rajna Swaminathan, which features a rotating collective of Indian classical musicians and jazz/creative musicians, and seeks to explore new improvisational and compositional possibilities stemming from the Indian classical idiom. In 2015, Anjna came under the tutelage of renowned vocalist and scholar, T.M. Krishna for her training in Carnatic music, and vocalist Samarth Nagarkar for her training in Hindustani music and accompaniment. She frequently engages with the burgeoning community of Indian classical musicians in New York and New Jersey, and is an active member of the Brooklyn Raga Massive, a growing artist-managed collective of musicians, performers and educators with a firm grounding in raga-based music and a mission to create a diverse, community-oriented artistic practice.
As a theatre artist, writer and dramaturg with interests in the intersection of race, class/caste, gender and sexuality, Hindu vedantic philosophy, and the boundaries of postcolonial Indian nationhood, Anjna often engages in artistic work that ties together multiple aesthetic forms towards a critical consciousness. She frequently takes part in interdisciplinary collaborations, often developing scores and providing musical accompaniment for Bharatanatyam (South Indian classical) dancers and dance companies, most notably, Ragamala Dance Company (Minneapolis), Rama Vaidyanathan, Mythily Prakash and Malini Srinivasan. From 2010 to 2017, Anjna performed and toured extensively in the United States and abroad with the acclaimed Minneapolis-based company Ragamala Dance, led by Doris Duke Artists Ranee and Aparna Ramaswamy, in whose projects she had the pleasure of working and performing alongside such artists as Rudresh Mahanthappa, Amir ElSaffar and Rez Abbasi. More recently, Anjna has delved into the realm of composition, and was commissioned (with co-composers Rajna Swaminathan and Sam McCormally) to create an original score for playwright/performer Anu Yadav's one-woman-play Meena's Dream. In her dramaturgical and theatrical work, she has a keen interest in developing new projects that seek to problematize the hierarchies of caste and gender that are inherent in her musical idiom, something that deeply informs her musical practice.
Anjna is co-artistic director of Rhythm Fantasies, Inc. - a non-profit organization that strives to promote South Indian classical music and dance in a space that encourages education and enrichment through innovation and cross-cultural collaboration. Anjna holds a Bachelors degree in Theatre from the University of Maryland, College Park.
Abhinav Seetharaman is a promising young South-Indian percussionist – on the drum known as the mridangam. He had his initial training on the mridangam at the age of 7, under Sri N. Ganesh Kumar and Sri Vijay Ganesh, and later proceeded to learn from Sri Tiruvarur Vaidyanathan. Currently, he is undergoing advanced training from Sri Kumar Kanthan of New Jersey, as well as world-renowned mridangam maestro Guru Karaikudi R. Mani.
Abhinav’s playing style is characterized by tonal clarity, powerful strokes, and manual dexterity. His sensitivity in playing is brought out by a perfect balance of melody and mathematical patterns. He regularly travels extensively around the United States and India to perform, and has accompanied distinguished musicians such as Dr. N. Ramani, Pandit Vishwa Mohan Bhatt, Sri Ganesh Rajagopalan, Sri P. Unnikrishnan, Pandit Tejendra Narayan Mazumdar, Sirkazhi Dr. G. Sivachidambaram, Sri Ramakrishnan Murthy, and Smt. K. Gayatri, just to name a few. He has played in several prestigious venues, such as the United States Capitol Building (Washington D.C.), John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts (Washington D.C.), Millenium Park (Chicago), Waukesha Civic Arts Theatre (Wisconsin), Narada Gana Sabha (Chennai), and JSS College (Bangalore).
In November of 2013, Abhinav was invited to play at the United States Capitol Building, as part of the first international annual Indo-American meet, which featured several leading members of the United States Senate and House of Representatives.
An avid French horn player himself, Abhinav’s extensive exposure to Western classical music provides an advantage in collaborating cross-culturally with musicians from a variety of global genres, and in the process brings awareness about South-Indian classical music to both initiated and uninitiated audiences.
Abhinav is also the co-founder of MusiLinks, a non-profit organization whose primary purpose is to raise funds for the needy, locally as well as internationally, through music. He has given over 60 charity concerts to date and continues to do outreach programs.
Abhinav is a third-year undergraduate student at Columbia University in the City of New York.
This event is part of Chhandayan's 2018 All Night Concert. To go to that event, click the button below:
This event is partially sponsored by the New York Council on the Arts: