Performing Artistes of Indian Classical Music – St Louis, MO
|Kanika Pandey – Hindustani Classical Musician (Vocal)
|Born in a music loving and musically dedicated family, Kanika was initiated into music by her father Pt. S. S. Pandey. She also learnt a great deal about the music and its discipline by listening to many veteran artists in informal sangeet baithaks (informal house concerts) during her early childhood years. At an early age of ten she accepted a strict discipline in music. After receiving a solid foundation in music from her father, in 1995, Kanika began her taleem (training) under the tutelage of the finest maestros, Pts. Rajan and Sajan Mishra of Benares gharana, learning the subtle nuances and stylistic techniques of the art form.
Kanika belongs to the new generation of musicians who believe in developing and evolving a personalized musical idiom while still maintaining the authenticity of the Hindustani classical music. Kanika has a rich and mellifluous voice and a very eloquent style of singing. She carries with her a rare artistic blend of Kirana and Benares gharana. Her training is very evident in her shruti shuddha swara, gradual unfolding and development of the raga, combining the poetry and its expression into singing. Her music emerges not only from her own virtuosity and versatility as a performer but also from her intellectual and diligent eclecticism as a student of Hindustani classical music. Besides maintaining the technical aspects, Kanika also gives a lot of focus on the aesthetics and the mystical/spiritual aspect of Hindustani music, thus resulting in a unique style that is technically fine and yet very soulful and aesthetically appealing.
She has a strong academic background and holds a master’s degree in performing Arts Administration from New York University (NYU), NY and another masters in Hindustani classical music from the University of Rajasthan, Jaipur with a gold medal. She had the hands on experience of working on many projects that the Weil Institute of Music- the education department of Carnegie Hall produced.
As an educator, Kanika has been associated with SIT Jaipur, (School for International Training, a branch of World Learning, Brattleboro, Vermont, US) as a visiting artist and guest lecturer.She has conducted workshop for professional and non-professional musicians in France and in India. Being a product of the traditional ‘guru-shishya parampara’ (a teacher student learning system), Kanika strongly believes in devoting her time and efforts in educating the younger generation of music aspirants and contributing her share of passing on this rich heritage. She has been a recipient of several prestigious awards and scholarships including an International fellowship from the Ford Foundation (2004), Junior Fellowship from the Dept. of Culture, Govt. of India (2002) and scholarship from the ministry of HRD, govt. of India (1992-94), scholarship from Rajasthan Sangeet Natak Academy (State academy of music, dance and drama) (1989-90). She was also awarded “Bhamashah” award from the Maharana Mewar Foundation, Udaipur (1994). Kanika has performed on stage throughout India, Europe and the United States.
|Pandit Shyam Kane – Tabla Support
|Pandit Shyam Kane was born into a Konkanastha Brahmin family in 1954. Pt. Kane was drawn to the Tabla after his brother, Mukund Kane, took to Tabla under Pt. Pandharinath Nageshkar of the Farukhabad Gharana.
Influenced by his brother, Pt. Kane began his journey in Tabla. After Pt. Kane witnessed a performance with Ustad. Zakir Hussain on Tabla, he wished to learn under the young master. Captivated by the balance, clarity and creativity of Ustad. Zakir Hussain’s style, Pt. Kane immediately asked for him for tutelage. In 1975, Pt. Kane became a Gandabandhan disciple of Ustad Alla Rakha and began learning under both father and son.
Pt. Kane has become a popular Tabla accompanist in India, North America, and Europe. Pt. Kane participated in the Festival of India (1985–1986) sponsored by the Government of India.
Pt. Kane has taught Tabla at San Diego State University and the Ali Akbar College of Music in San Rafael, California. Pt. Kane frequently performs alongside his guru, Utd. Zakir Hussain, where recently both performed together at the 2007 Brihan Maharashtra Mandal Convention in Seattle.
Pt. Shyam Kane has performed alongside Pt. Jasraj, Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia, Ustad. Ali Akbar Khan, Smt. Ashwini Bhide-Deshpande, Smt. N. Rajam, and Smt. Kishori Amonkar, Asha Khadilkar among others.
|Mrs. Vijayalakshmi Venugopal – Carnatic Classical Musician (Vocalist)
|Smt. Vijayalakshmi Venugopal was born in Trichy in a musical family. She had her schooling in Trichy; then moved to the famous Thiruvaiyaru Music College under the Madras University where she obtained the SANGEETHA SIROMANI title with vocal major and veena minor. She was the disciple of well-known Vidwans like Alathur Srinivasa Iyer, T V Namasivayam and Chittoor Subramanian Pillai.
After her marriage in 1974, she moved to Chennai where she joined as a vocal lecturer at the Teachers College of Music, run by the famous Music Academy. There she shaped several music teachers who are spread today all over India and even overseas places like Malaysia, Mauritius, UK and the USA, spreading the cultural heritage of South India.
She has given performances at all major cultural sabhas in South India including the December Festival at the Music Academy for which she was adjudged best performing artist and received the Award from the Union Information and Broadcasting Minister. Other Performances include the memorable one at the Lord Mountbatten Hall in London under the auspices of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan.
She then started her career at the All India Radio in 1985 as Staff Artist and Retired in 2015. She is a “A” Grade Artist of All India Radio and is continues to sing concerts for South Indian and Far Eastern audience.
She has produced many musical features for special occasions. First of a series of features was NAVARASA NAVANEETHAN produced for a Krishna Jayanthi which received the President’s Best Regional Award. That was followed by ARUM PUGAZH HANUMAN (for a Hanumath Jayanthi) VARAM THARUM VARALAKSHMI (for a Varalakshmi Vratham) and so on which all received very wide appreciation and awards. She has released a Tamil Album that has received praise for the collection and rendition of the songs. She recently released an album for a musical production of AKHILANDESHWARI AKSHARA MALA. She is sought after for judging music competitions in Chennai, India. She has several students now in India and the US from beginner level to concert artists to promote and continue her art into future generations.
|Ram Lakshmanan – Mridangam Artist
|Ram Lakshmanan in his high school years started learning the art of playing Mridangam from Pudukkottai Sri Rajagopala Pillai, a direct disciple of the legendary Pudukkottai Sri Dakshinamurthy Pillai. After a couple of years of initial training, Ram began accompanying various artists – vocal, violin and flute artists. Later he took some advanced lessons and coaching from Dr. P K Swaminathan of Baltimore and “Sangeeta Kalanidhi” Umayalpuram Sri K Sivaraman.
During his 30+ years of playing Mridangam, Ram has accompanied various artists in India, Indonesia and the US and won several awards and recognitions.
Ram has been accompanying musicians in St. Louis at the Thyagaraja Aradhana, Annamacharya Aradhana, Guru Vandana Day celebrations, and other such events. He has performed at the Inter Faith Music Concert in 2015 and at the Trinity Church in 2016. He accompanied a group of young musicians in a program broadcast by NPR (National Public Radio) in their Steve Potter’s Show. He has also performed at the annual dance festivals conducted by “Nrithyakshetra” a dance school run by Guru Smitha Rajan, and “Dances of India” a dance school run by Guru Asha Prem.
Ram’s style of playing incorporates the basic principle that life is about rhythms, balance and harmony. He strives for three key ingredients while accompanying: (i) Keep accurate rhythm; (ii) Anticipate and reflect the contours and mood of the song; and (iii) Embellish the concert by adapting to the style of the main artist.
Ram has earned a BS in Economics and MBA in Finance and Marketing. He is a Banking Consultant by profession advising Retail Banks and private equity firms. His life interests include singing, cooking, working out at the gym, running Half Marathons, solving puzzles, learning languages (fluent in eight), and connecting with people from all walks of life.