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  • Writer's pictureNirmalaRajasekar

When it rained, it poured

From the Mangala Margazhi program in December 2021, L to R: Sri Thanjavur K. Murugaboopathi (mridangam), Sri Guruprasad (ghatam), and Sri R. Raghul (violin)

The centenary of my guru, Smt. Kalpakam Swaminathan, was launched with pomp and style by one of my favourite organizations, Dhvani (Columbus, Ohio). They hosted a concert of mine in which every piece paid tribute to a facet of the great vidushi's music. Though I miss her everyday, her spirit always guides me.

With my guru Vidushi Smt. Kalpakam Swaminathan in 2007

"a skip, a hop, and a jump" is the title of my new composition for Heartland Marimba. I'm excited to share this with the world - do watch this space for upcoming details! Also coming your way is "VoKo": Vocal Konnakol, a new concept featuring the intersection of vocal music and the language of Indian rhythm, konnakol. This project was made possible through the generous support of New Music USA's Creator Development Fund.

I was delighted to return to India in October. The concert season began with a presentation for the "Naalandha Conference: Analytical and Comparative Study on Indian Raga and Azerbaijani Mugham", under the auspices of UNESCO, Embassy of India in France, Embassy of India in Azerbaijan, and the Carnatic Conservatory in Paris. This was followed by a new unique Carnatic jugalbandhi duet between Sri Mysore Manjunath on violin and yours truly on veena, along with a fantastic percussion team. The program was well-received in the press; thank you, Sri V.S.V. and Tamil weekly magazine Ananda Vikatan for your extensive coverage of this concert.

L to R: Sri Giridhar Udupa (ghatam), Sri Thanjavur K. Murugaboopathi (mridangam), Sri Mysore Manjunath (violin), myself (veena), and Sri Thiruppungur Muthukumaraswamy (thavil)

From the review in Ananda Vikatan by Sri V.S.V.

It was a learning experience for me to navigate all of these concerts amidst the deluge that hit Chennai this winter. It has been 200 years since Chennai received 21 centimeters of water in one day. Climate change is real, and I experienced its devastating effects firsthand in this tropical city. of 11 million people.

Carrying the veena over my head, walking through knee-deep water to a dry vehicle, being carted off to safety... these are things I would have never have imagined before this trip. Having moved to four different hotels during a period of five weeks, I'm just very grateful for all of the many friends and well-wishers who have helped me through this testing time.

My dear veena packed for travel in the rain

Despite these challenges, I am very grateful to have been able to perform nearly all of the concerts as scheduled, present lectures, make some television appearances, travel to Bangalore and Mysore for performances, and spend time with family (something that I did not get to do in my last visit in spring due to the lockdown).

L to R: Sri Patri Satishkumar (mridangam), Dr. S. Karthik (ghatam) and myself (veena) at the Carnatica Global Heritage Fest, December 2021. Photo courtesy: Carnatica

2022 has dawned. I carry hope and optimism for a year of less of the virus and more of the music.

Photo courtesy: Margazhi Maha Utsavam, December 2021

Love and peace,



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