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Artistic Direction:

Ramesh Vinayakam, Founder and Director

Ramesh

Ramesh Vinayakam was trained in both Carnatic and Western music and a precocious autodidact. He has composed in the classical, devotional, cinema, fusion and experimental styles. Ramesh’s Carnatic gurus include Rukmini Ramani, and his father, veena vidwan Raghavan. He was trained in the piano by the Madras legend, Jacob John. He is a popular music director in both Hyderabad and Chennai and has even composed for Hollywood, like in the film, "A Common Man". His most recent hit film was "Ramanujan" about the mathematical genius of the 20th century, for which he recorded the soundtrack with the GermanPops Orchestra in Frankfurt and others. He has composed songs, arranged music, presented lecdems on global music and composed ringtones for Nokia. He has collaborated extensively with V.S. Narasimhan and the Madras String Quartet. He was involved in the making of Raga Rasa presented on the occasion of vidwan Lagudi Jayaraman’s 80th birthday in Chennai. Sree Ramadootam - a Sanskrit composition of Ramesh’s in Manirangu raga is often presented by Nithyashree Mahadevan in her concerts. He composed the theme song for the mega-event Naada Vaibhavam organised by the Art of Living Foundation.

  President L Subramaniam

Left, Ramesh at the screening of "Ramanujan" with the honorable President of India, Pranab Mukherjee
Right, Ramesh after a performance with violinist L. Subramaniam and family

R. S. Jayalakshmi, Academic Head

RS Jayalakshmi

Dr. Mrs. R.S. Jayalakshmi is a renowned Vina artist and had her training under Vina Vidvans Late Sri V.Raghavan and R.Pichumani Ayyar. She also learnt special compositions like Padam and Javali from Smt. T. Muktha. She has been performing Vina concerts in All India Radio and Television as B-high graded artist for several years. She was on the faculty of the Department of Indian Music, University of Madras, from 1977 to 2004. In that time she was superviser for dozens of doctoral students who have made crucial contributions to the field of musicology. Her M.Phil. dissertation entitled "Raga lakshanatthil Aarohanam - Avarohanam" (Tamizh) (Aarohanam-avarohanam as the characteristic of a Raga) has been published as a book in December 1999 by. The subject of her Ph.D. thesis was "Subbarama Dikshitarin Sangita-sampradaya-pradasini-yil Vilakkappattulla Gamakangal" (Tamizh) (Gamakas explained in Sangita-sampradaya-pradarsini of Subbarama Diksitar). She has also presented Research Papers and Lecture-Demonstrations at various conferences throughout India and world wide. She has been the editor of numerous volumes brought out by the Madras Music Academy among many other publishers.

Jeremy Woodruff, Head of International Education (from 2016)

Jeremy Woodruff

Dr. Jeremy Woodruff, completed his Ph.D. at the University of Pittsburgh, studied composition at the Royal Academy in London with Michael Finnissy from 1999–2001 and Non-Western Composition at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam 2002–2004. He is currently Academic Head of Preparatory Department and Composition Faculty at the KM Music Conservatory in Chennai, India. Previously he lived in Berlin since 2004 where he was Co-Director at the Neue Musikschule Berlin teaching composition, music theory and electronic music. Jeremy has given guest lectures and seminars on sound, Indian music and new music at many institutions including at the UdK Berlin, Goldsmiths University and Carnegie Mellon. A forthcoming book will be published by Errant Bodies press in 2016. He has been commissioned by Percusemble Berlin, and by the Deutsches Kammerorchester Berlin, among others. His writings have been published by Klangzeitort (Berlin) Errant Bodies Press, Interference: A Journal of Audio Culture, Journal of Sonic Studies, KunstMusik Journal and by Verlag für Moderne Kunst (Nürnberg). His scores are published by Neue Musik Verlag Berlin.

Musicians:

P. S. Narayanaswamy, vocal

PS Narayanaswamy

Puliyur Subramaniam Narayanaswamy was born in Konerirajapuram, Thanjavur in Madras Presidency. He learnt music from Tiruppambaram Somasundaram Pillai, T. M. Tyagarajan and later PSN came under Sangita Kalanidhi Mudikondan Venkatarama Iyer, and then under the gurukulavasa system, he joined Semmangudi in the early 1950s. PSN had started giving concerts, both public and through All India Radio, at the age of 15. It is interesting to note that no one else from his family took to music; his brother is an engineer and sister a medical practitioner. Pichai moved over to Chennai in the second half of the Fifties and soon established himself as a classy concert artiste and a teacher of high order. Blessed with a powerful voice, Narayanaswami absorbed the special aspects of

the music of all stalwart musicians of the last century, carving out a style of his own, even though the Semmangudi style was clearly perceptible in his renditions. He has had the privilege of being accompanied by stalwarts of the last century such as, violin maestro Pappa Venkataramaiah and mridangam Palghat Mani Iyer for his concerts. PSN's own students, who have made a significant mark on the concert platform, comprise a large number. This list consists of not only vocalists but also violinists and other instrumentalists. He was awarde Padma Bhushan by the Government of India and Sangeetha Kala Acharya by the Madras Music Academy.

P. Unnikrishnan, vocal

Unnikrishnanan

Unnikrishnan was initiated into Carnatic Music at age of 12 by Seshadri, Unnikrishnan. He was inspired by Sangita Kalanidhi Dr. S. Ramanathan.[2] He attended a special workshop for six months on "Veena Dhanammal Bhani" under Sangeetha Kalanidhi T.Brinda and Sangeetha Kalanidhi Dr.T.Vishwa Nathan. He is a national award winning playback singer for his debut film songs "Ennavale Adi Ennavale" and "Uyirum Neeye". These songs were composed by A. R. Rahman, with whom Unni Krishnan gave most of his memorable songs. He was one of the permanent judges in the reality television show AIRTEL Super Singer on Vijay TV in both the seasons (2006, 2008 & 2010-2011) and 2008 Idea Star Singer on Asianet. Unnikrishnan is also becoming known for his experimental work. In 2008, he presented a novel jazz concert in Thiruvananthapuram with the Eli Yamin Jazz Quartet and pianist Anil Srinivasan. He prefers singing classical songs over pop music. He says,
"Carnatic music has grown to a great extent…The nuances of Carnatic music may be difficult for a layman to understand but music lovers today are willing to put in the effort to enjoy the music. I have seen youngsters talking about this form of music with enthusiasm. People take time off their busy schedules to come and listen to us artistes. So, it's our responsibility to ensure that they enjoy the music."

V. S. Narasimhan, violin

VS Narasimhan

Born in Karnataka, India, V S Narasimhan was trained in South Indian classical music since the age of five as well as in Western classical music from his teenage years. He has Played violin for movies as well as part of orchestras and in solos and he is at home in many styles of music including North Indian, folk and jazz. He is the leader of the Madras String Quartet. The Madras String Quartet has generated several innovative albums interfacing Indian and Western classical music. He has performed throughout India and all over the world and has received critical acclaim in the press as a highly accomplished musician with originality. He has scored music and conducted for movies, albums and other projects with leading musicians in India and abroad.

Shantala Subramanyam, flute

Shantala Subramanyam

Shantala started playing in early childhood under the tutelage of her father M N Subramanyam, himself an amature musician and her brother Shashank, an eminent flute artist. It was also her good fortune to be trained by eminent performers - vocalist Late Sri. Vairamangalam Lakshminarayanan and is currently pursuing vocal music training under Sri O.S.Thyagarajan and Sri T V Gopalakrishanan. She gratefully acknowledges the contributions of famed South Indian drummers Trichur Sri.Narendran, Patri. Satish Kumar and Parupalli Phalgun towards enriching her rhythm training, spread over a decade. Owing to her diligent training, Shantala has been highly appreciated for her melodic presentations combined with complex rhythmic patterns. Today, she’s

recognized as an important and authentic voice in this demanding tradition and this view has been echoed by music critiques. Her three most recent CD productions, “Bamboo in Harmony”, “Dakshin” and “Singing Bamboo” have received accolades as she has toured extensively all over the world at prestigious performance venues and festivals.

Further musicians:

Allam Durga Prasad, gottuvadyam

Born in a family of rich musical tradition, Durgaprasad, right from his childhood showed signs of interest in music. His initial musical training was given by his father late Shri. ALLAM KOTESWARA RAO a renowned Gottuvadyam exponent . Later, he was put under the tutelage of KALASIKHAMANI late Shri A.NARAYANA IYER. By his earnestness, dedication and devotion to this fine art, he lost no time in studying the intricacies of handling this instrument and very soon climbed up the ladder of excellence. He got well trained in Carnatic Vocal music by the great SANDHYAVANDANAM SRINIVASARAO. Durgaprasad did his Teachers Training Course in Music, further to acquiring his Masters degree- Vadya Praveena in Gottuvadyam from Sri Venkateswara University, Tirupati. Being a "Top Rank" artist in All India Radio and an excellent performer , Durgaprasad has been able to cater to his listeners with pure orthodox Carnatic music, maintaining absolute tonal purity and rhythmic balance, taking them to dizzy heights. He has performed at various prestigious Sabhas, organizations and Music festivals all over the country and abroad and won great appreciation and laurels from listeners and critics.He has also performed during 'Radio Sangeeth Sammelans', 'National Programmes of Doordarshan & All India Radio, and private Telivision channels. Even at an early age he had the fortune of playing with the great Mridangam stalwarts like Shri. Karaikudi R.Mani, Shri. Vellore Ramabadran, Shri.Yella Venkateswara Rao and others was accompanying during his concerts.

Padma Shankar, violin

Padma Shankar started her training in music at a tender age from her vainika mother, Mrs Lakshmi Narayanan(disciple of Late Ananthakrishna Bagavathar of Calcutta). Padma's initial training in violin was from (late) Shri. Ramakrishna Sarma of Mumbai. She had the good fortune of being under the tutelage of the late great violin maestro, Padmabhushan. Shri. Lalgudi G. Jayaraman. Padma has accompanied veterans like Dr M. Balamuralikrishna, Tanjavur Sankara Iyer, Smt Vedavalli, and vocalists like Sanjay Subramaniam, Vijay Siva, Dr Ganesh, among many others as well as having had the great opportunity of accompanying her guru Shri Lalgudi Jayaraman in his violin concert and lecture demonstrations. She has won many prizes and awards from the Madras Music Academy and others. Padma is graded " A" by the All India Radio and is a regular performer in both All India radio and doordarshan. She has performed in all leading Sabhas and various music festivals in India. She has performed in the U S A , Canada, France , Singapore , Malaysia and the Middle East. Padma has a number of albums released as violin accompanist as well as solo albums.

M. A. Krishnaswamy, violin

Parur M. A. Krishnaswamy is a violinist in the Carnatic tradition who hails from the legendary Parur family of violinists. He is the son of violin vidwan Parur M. S. Anantharaman and the grandson of Parur Sundaram Iyer who is the inventor of the Parur style of violin playing which is known for it's distinctive one-finger and long-bow techniques. He underwent rigorous training under his grandfather in addition to imbibing technique from listening to his father and uncle, Parur M. S. Gopalakrishnan.

Bala Sai, flute

At an early age, when he was a kid of 9, Bala Sai's father introduced him to the nuances of the flute. His disciplined learning earned him a tutor in Shri T. Sanjeevi and Sangeetham Meera Sahibji. Sangeethamji taught him the kirtana renditions. Later, he honed his skills under the tutelage of Shri Chittor G. Venkatesan, and Dr. Prapancham Sitaram.

Balasai had performed in all the major festivals, sabhas of Chennai, Tamil Nadu and India. He is a major fixture in the Kutcheris of the December Season. His inimitable style of rendering had held him in good stead with classes and masses alike. As a soloist he had shown remarkable genius in bringing a depth of voice cultured playing to the flute and he exemplifies THE ART OF BAMBOO POETRY.

He has travelled widely throughout the world. Two decades of performances include numerous Solo, Duet and Fusion concerts performed in India and abroad. He had travelled extensively to Russia, USA, Canada, UK, France and participated In ICCR Festivals. He has performed Duet Concerts In Australia, as also at the Sweden and Finland JAZZ Music Festivals.

Mandalin Prakash

Prakash Hariharan is a classically trained electric mandolin virtuoso. He focuses on fusion and South Indian classical (Carnatic) music. His formative years were spent training under Mandolin U.P. Raju and Vocal & Vainika Vidhushi Innisai Maamani Smt. Padma Veeraraghavan. He has been performing for more than 15 years and won the National level Music Competition held by All India Radio in 2007 (Carnatic Instrumental category) and also became an All India Radio 'B' grade artist. He is also the recipient of the Bharath Kalachar and CCRT Central Government Scholarships. In addition to his original and classical work, Prakash continues to work in the film industry with notable composers like A.R. Rahman, Harris Jeyaraj, Imman composing and producing soundtrack works. In 2014, he released his first classical album, Gayaki Mandolin to coincide with a North American tour. Later in the year, he also released an EP with his fusion band Project YUJ.

Research Staff:

Vyjayanthi K. Narasu and Vandana K. Narasu

Vyjayanthi and Vandana

Vyjayanthi and Vandana completed their M.A.s in music at Madras University and also completed advanced training in Carnatic music at Swami Haridoss Giri school of Music, Narada Gana Sabha, Chennai, headed by Sri.P.S.Narayanaswamy. They started singing from the very young age of seven years and had the rare privilege of having late Smt D.K.Pattamal initiate them into the world of music. She then put them under the tutelage of her grand daughter Smt.Gayathri Sundararaman who taught them for a period of two years. Thereafter they were under the fold of Smt.Bhushany Kalyanaraman who is still guiding and strengthening their music knowledge today. Vyjayanthi and Vandana have performed continuously for more than ten years at Thiruvaiyaru Thyagaraja Aradhana and their concert last year was highlighted in the local newspaper by critics of music. They have also been singing at various temples in and around Chennai and outside for Navarathri and other special occasions. Television channels have given them opportunities in bringing out their talents and capabilities. Vyjayanthi and Vandana were frequent participants at VDS Arts Academy (TROP).

Shruti Kumar Iyer

Shruti Kumar

Sruthi Kumar, hails from a musical family, being the great granddaughter  of the legendary music composer, Sri Papanasam Sivan. She is the daughter of Papanasam R.Kumar, who is a Mridangam vidwan in AIR Chennai and an excellent senior artiste in his own right. Sruthi started learning the Veena under the able guidance of Smt. Shanthi Mahesh at the tender age of six. She also received her advanced training in Veena from Smt. Revathy Srinivasan for seven years. Presently, she is under the tutelage of the Veena duo Sri. Jeyaraaj and Smt. Jaysri Jeyaraaj. Sruthi  is also a singer  having learnt Vocal under  Sri Kolkata Vijayaraghavan and Sri Trichy S.Ganesan (Madurai) for ten years. Presently, she has been learning under  the  guidance of Smt. Shyamala Venkateshwaran , Sri. P.S. Narayanaswamy and Smt. R.S. Jayalakshmi. She  has  many  awards  and  prizes  from  reputed  organizations including  The  Music Academy, Naradha Gana Sabha, R.R. Sabha (Trichy) to her credit. She has been a B Grade Artiste and a regular performer at the All India Radio, Chennai. Sruthi is also involved with fusion music and jugalbandhi with her own band  – “LAYAPRIYA” which strives to highlight the carnatic musical aspects of world music. Sruthi is now pursuing her Advanced Course in Carnatic Music from the Naradha Gana Sabha.