Kiranavali Lands Project Grant from Art Centre in Philadelphia
PHILADELPHIA: Carnatic vocalist and Chitravina player, Kiranavali Vidyasankar, has landed a prestigious project grant from The Pew Center of Arts & Heritage, a premier funding organization in the Philadelphia area, where she currently resides. Her project - Tradition - An Evolving Continuum - is picked from among applications representing diverse performance genres. It is a pioneering effort to explore the dynamic nature of tradition and evolution in the context of this age-old classical music of India in a first-of-its-kind performance.
Kiranavali hails from a renowned family of musicians that includes her grandfather, Gotuvadyam Narayana Iyengar, her father and guru, Chitravina Narasimhan, and her musician- brothers Chitravina Ravikiran & K N Shashikiran and cousin, Chitravina Ganesh. Like her brothers, she blossomed under her fatherís loving and watchful guidance, and made her mark as a genuine child prodigy at the age of two, when she could identify over 200 ragas and 175 talas besides demonstrating other musical skills.
Her initial talents attained solidity over time, with the exceptional guidance she received from all her gurus - her father, her brother Ravikiran, and the late Sangita Kalanidhi Smt. T. Brinda. Kiranavaliís vocal career started in tandem with her brother Shashikiran, whom she partnered with for the first fifteen years of her life before both branched out as soloists. By the age of 17, she also discovered her interest in and aptitude for Chitravina, and showed exceptional progress on it within a few months. She has performed solo Chitravina concerts, and also teamed up with her brother Ravikiran. Kiranavaliís music performances have been featured in many major venues in India, United States, Canada and Europe.
Kiranavaliís move to the United States in 2002 put her career on a different trajectory, and has given her the opportunity to show her versatility in various ways. She has left a strong mark across various cities, and contributed to the music scene as a performer and educator. Her value-based approach, passionate zeal, and impeccable work ethic have won her much acclaim, respect and admiration from various quarters. The grant from The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage is another meaningful validation of her sustained efforts.
The multi-dimensional project that Kiranavali has undertaken not only explores the core values of Carnatic music that have shaped and sustained this music over time, but also its continuing evolution. That was showcased in a two-part performance on November 7, 2015 at The Painted Bride Art Center in Philadelphia. It was presented by Sruti. The first part featured a conventional Carnatic vocal concert of Kiranavali accompanied by V V S Murari (Violin), Vinod Seetharaman (Mridangam), Ravi Balasubramaniam (Ghatam) and Akshay Anantapadmanabhan (Kanjira). The second part of the performance was a pioneering and remarkable effort to bring together renowned musicians from traditional lineages as well as the second generation of Indians in the United States in a first-of-its-kind vocal-instrumental ensemble. The ensemble featured traditional Indian instruments such as the Chitravina (Kiranavali), Vina (Nirmala Rajasekar), Mridangam (Vinod Seetharaman), Ghatam (Ravi Balasubramanian) and Kanjira (Akshay Anantapadmanabhan), besides those adapted from the west, such as Violin (V V S Murari), Saxophone (Prasant Radhakrishnan) and Electronic Keyboard (N Muralikrishnan). Besides conceptualizing this project and composing music for the new ensemble, Kiranavali led it as the Vocalist and Chitravina artist. Mridangam player Vinod Seetharaman collaborated with Kiranavali in arranging the percussion section of the new compositions.