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Carnatic Sundays at The Cornelia Street Cafe
(Published: January 20, 2012)


New York City has always been a receptive home for the new and experimental in the arts. Indian music is emerging as an exciting site where traditional forms are now being treated to creative makeovers. Young Indian-Americans are offerings new engagements with the melodic and rhythmic structures of classical music from the subcontinent. Guided by guitarist Tom Chang's vision to expand the palate of musical offerings, Cornelia Street Café has emerged as a vibrant space for the new in Indian classical music, in particular Carnatic music from south India. Carnatic Sundays, a series curated by Arun Ramamurthy, a violinist from Brooklyn, brings Carnatic music with an edge to the Village.

Arun Ramamurthy is convinced that the improvisational possibilities offered by Carnatic music will appeal to New York City jazz audiences: "Its improvisational, complicated and challenging." The music has a very old and rich tradition that is associated with the southern states of India. With the increasing presence and numbers of the South Asian diaspora, the musical form is flourishing in the United States. However, so far it has been mainly within diasporic gatherings in temples or community centers. Now the challenge is to get this vibrant musical form to circulate globally and get a wider, diverse audience excited by Carnatic sounds. Akshay
Anantapadmanabhan, percussionist (mridangam) who has been involved with Carnatic Sundays from its inception last year notes, "we want to bring a footprint of Carnatic music into the New York City music scene. It's a perfect place to start something innovative and get people involved."

The series is attracting a different crowd from places, as Arun Ramamurthy says from outside the mainstream Carnatic purview. Some of them are young Indian-Americans; some are musicians attracted by the freshness of the sound; some just listeners who frequent the café to experience the music. A new very diverse audience is emerging for this classical art form full of creative possibilities. They come to connect with the music, as Arun says, "from their perspective, their history and location."

Carnatic Sundays is opening its 2012 line up on January 22 with the sounds of Karavika, an ensemble featuring violinist Trina Basu, cellist Amali Premawardhana, bassist Perry Wortman and on tabla, Avi Shah. This is followed by the Arun Ramamurthy Quartet promising fresh arrangements to the classic compositions of south India featuring Arun on violin, Akshay Anantapadmanabhan on mridangam, Perry Wortman, bass and Sameer Gupta, drums.

Radha S. Hegde

More Information: http://www.corneliastreetcafe.com

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