Saraswathi Veena brings melody and piety

Await a Double-Headed Music Bonanza on August 19 in Auckland

Venkat Raman

A prominent Veena artiste is gratified that an increasing number of young people are learning the great instrument in New Zealand.

Nirmala Rajasekar, a much-acclaimed performer, who is scheduled to present her Veena Concert in Auckland on Saturday, August 19, 2017, said that interest in the ‘Instrument of Goddess of Knowledge Saraswathi’ has been somewhat slow generally but the fact that New Zealand is bucking the trend is a welcome sign.

“It would be an honour to perform in a country that understands and appreciates Carnatic Music. I look forward to meeting Veena enthusiasts in New Zealand,” she said, speaking to Indian Newslink from her home in Chennai.

Concert Details

Organised by Rasikas New Zealand, Sangeetha Bharathi and New Zealand Indian Fine Arts Society of Wellington, the Programme will be held from 4 pm at Raye Freedman Art Centre of Epsom Girls Grammar School in Epsom, Auckland and on Sunday, August 20, 2017 from 3 pm at the Adam Concert Hall of Victoria University (7 Kelburn Parade) Kelburn, Wellington.

A team of musicians on Violin, Mridangam and Kanjira will perform with Veena and Vocal exponents in this Double Header, treating listeners to an extended evening of melody.

The programme will commence with the lilting sounds of the Veena followed by a grand Vocal concert after a short interval during which refreshments will be available.

Tickets priced at $50 (Reserved) and $30 (General) per person (including refreshments during the interval) for the Auckland Concert can be obtained from Priya Srinivasan on 021-613155 (Email: or from Jaya Venugopalan on (09) 6208074

Details regarding the Wellington Concert can be obtained from Raghu Raman on 027- 2103477 or from TN Balajee on 021-0599405.

Veneration dominates

Ms Rajasekar said that her approach to Concerts is one of veneration.

“Every song is a favourite and every composition is a submission to the audience and hence the choice of rendition would depend on the mood of the audience at Concerts. There can however be thematic presentation depending on the occasion (such as Tribute to Annamacharya, Saint Thyagaraja),” she said.

“Similarly, every song is a challenge and every Concert poses anxiety. I believe that I am never at my best. I listen to reviews and critics and try to improve,” she added.

Formative years

Beginning her training when she was six years old under Deva Kottai Narayana Iyengar and Kamala Ashwathama, Ms Rajasekar moved to Bangalore upon her father’s transfer as a bank employee. She continued her Veena lessons at ‘Gana Mandira School’ under G Chennama and E P Alamelu.

Her musical career began when she was 13 years old. Later in Chennai, she was guided by Kalpakam Swaminathan. Her Gurus for vocal music were B Sitarama Sharma and Professor T R Subramanyam.

Her music has been described as “sublime, creative and innovative, yet seeped in traditional values, masterful and soulful.”

A difficult call

Following her graduation in Computer Engineering, she pursued her doctorate research on Artificial Intelligence in Leicester, England. Veena was always in her veins and 16 years into her profession, she decided to dedicate her life and career to practicing and performing on the Veena.

Marriage to a Software Engineer took her to the USA. Their daughter Shruti is a proficient Soprano learning advanced Music at Princeton University, New Jersey, while their son Neeraj is doing his PhD in Sociology in Minnesota.

She is the Artistic Director of ‘Naadha Rasa’ (Essence of Tone) Centre for Music, which she established in USA.

Ms Rajasekar travels all over the world teaching and performing Carnatic Music vocally and on her Veena. She is an active collaborator and has written and performed with many disciplines including Western Classical Music, Jazz, Chinese Music, Poetry and Dance.

She is currently working on a new album which she hopes would be published next year.

Called, ‘Mythree,’ a dedication to the late M S Subbulakshmi (whose rendition of ‘Maithreem Bhajata’ brought her international fame), the album is a collaboration with a Western Classic Music Orchestra.

“My dream is to promote Carnatic Music and do experimental work,” Ms Rajasekar said.

Kunnakudi M Balamurali Krishna

Kunnakudi M Balamurali Krishna is one of India’s top young vocalists.

Meenakshi Sundaram, his father and first guru, is also a musician and an eminent teacher. Trained by Neyveli Santhanagopalan and V Sundaresan, he has been under the tutelage of PS Narayanaswami since 1993.

Balamurali has enthralled audiences all over the world.

Supporting Musicians

BU Ganesh Prasad

B U Ganesh Prasad hails from a family of connoisseurs of classical music and had his initial violin training under Basavanagudi Nataraj and vocal guidance from Bangalore S Shankar during his formative years.

It was under the able guidance of Violin maestro VV Subramaniam that Ganesh was able to further hone and nurture his skills. An accomplished vocalist, he vocalises his violin style with fluency. He is currently a disciple of PS Narayanaswami of Semmangudi School.

Vidwan Tanjore K Murugaboopathi

Tanjore K Murugaboopathi hails from a family of musicians and artistes of several generations. He had his initial training under TR Srinivasan (Mridangam Vidwan and Lecturer) at the Tamil Nadu Music College, Chennai.

He was conferred the title of ‘Vadya Visharada’ with distinction by the Music College.

He has performed at several concerts in New Zealand.

B Shree Sundarkumar

B Shree Sundarkumar is a leading Kanjira artiste. Entering the musical world at the tender age of three, he has been mesmerising audiences with his intricate rhythm beats and innate creativity. Coming from a musical family, he initially learnt under his father, renowned Mridangam artiste Dr KBS Mani and then started his training from maestro Guru Kaaraikudi R Mani. Known as the ‘Kanjira Man,’ Sundarkumar’s unique way of playing the instrument has evolved a craze among the music fraternity.

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