Concept, Script, Narration Gowri Ramnarayan
Vocals: Aditya Prakash, Sushma Somasekharan | Violin: Shreya Devnath | Mridangam: Praveen Kumar
All are welcome to join us for this tribute to Mahatma Gandhi and to the musicians of yesteryear who participated in India’s Freedom Struggle. (This program is not ticketed).
In the first half of the twentieth century, the classical musicians of south India looked like the traditionalists they were – men with tufts and dhotis, women with demure buns and diamond nose rings. Their music reflected these old world values. But they supported India’s freedom movement and sang songs celebrating Mahatma Gandhi and his reformist ideals. Some even took the trouble to learn and showcase the Mahatma’s favorite bhajans like “Vaishnava janato” and “Raghupati raghava” in Gujarati and Hindi.
The signature song of DK Pattammal, the grand dame of Carnatic music, demanded peace in the name of Mahatma Gandhi, and the transformation of hearts. Maestro Ariyakudi Ramanuja Iyengar’s melodic refrain was “The spinning wheel is Gandhi’s great weapon!”. Mirabai’s “Hari tum haro”, recorded by MS Subbulakshmi at the Mahatma’s request a few months before his assassination, became the lament of the nation when it was played on All India Radio with the announcement of Gandhi’s death.
In “Music for Peace”, gen next musicians revive these inspirational songs rendered by great Carnatic musicians in the past, not only to pay homage to the Mahatma but also to reclaim his values for our troubled times.
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
Gowri Ramnarayan – concept, script, narration
Starting her writing career with an in-depth profile of DK Pattammal, Gowri Ramnarayan went on to become a prolific writer on arts and cultural issues for The Hindu, a playwright, and vocal accompanist to Pattammal’s contemporary MS Subbulakshmi. Her witty, thought-provoking, visually interesting productions make original use of music and dance. Gowri has served as a member of the Fipresci Jury at European film festivals and received the Nataka Choodamani award for excellence in theatre.
Aditya Prakash – Vocal
Aditya Prakash is an American born Indian classical musician best known for his powerful, reverberant, emotive voice. Rooted in the Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer school of Carnatic music with Palai CK Ramachandran and PS Narayanaswami as gurus, he is currently being guided by TM Krishna and RK Shriramkumar. Aditya’s experiments in collaborative projects on both sides of the Atlantic, reflect his fascination for genres from classical western and Hindustani to Sufi, jazz, hip-hop and flamenco.
Sushma Somasekharan – Vocal
A chartered accountant in Singapore who has developed a sensitive, nuanced vocal style, Sushma received her initial training in Carnatic music from Singapore Indian Fine Arts Society and is now a disciple of Lalita Sivakumar, DK Pattammal’s vocal accompanist. Sushma is a contributor to Sruti, India’s premier performing arts. Winner of the Junior Outstanding Vocalist Award for her performance (Dec 2017) at the Music Academy, this graded AIR artiste has impressed audiences with recitals in three continents.
Shreya Devnath – Violin
A disciple of Lalgudi Jayaraman currently under the guidance of GJR Krishnan, Shreya has made a mark for herself as a soloist and accompanist in her frequent recitals in India and abroad. She has evolved a distinct style where precision is matched with fluency. Shreya’s intelligence, quick grasp and mellifluousness make her an asset to any team. She has enjoyed performing chitraveena and flute jugalbandis, and singing for Bharatanatyam recitals.
K Praveen Kumar – Mridangam
With veterans Valangaiman Shanmugasundaram Pillai for grandfather and Tanjore Upendran for father, K Praveen Kumar grew up in a world resonating with rhythms. With initial lessons with Nellai Balaji, and advanced training from Guruvayur Dorai, he has established himself as one of the brightest young percussionists of today. Playing for renowned Carnatic musicians Praveen blends sensitivity with vigor. He also enjoys making independent music and an occasional foray into composing and performing music for theatre.