Presenters

Tanjavur 1869

SPEAKERS
 

Davesh Soneji

 

Davesh Soneji is Associate Professor in the Department of South Asia Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. His research interests lie at the intersection of social and cultural history, religion, and anthropology. For the past two decades, he has produced research that focuses primarily on religion and the performing arts in South India, but also includes work on gender, class, caste, and colonialism. He is best known for his work on the social history of professional female artists in Tamil and Telugu-speaking South India and is author of Unfinished Gestures: Devadāsīs, Memory, and Modernity in South India (University of Chicago Press, 2012), which was awarded the 2013 Bernard S. Cohn Book Prize from The Association for Asian Studies (AAS). He is also editor of Bharatanāṭyam: A Reader (Oxford, 2010) and co-editor, with Indira Viswanathan Peterson, of Performing Pasts: Reinventing the Arts in Modern South India (Oxford, 2008). He is presently co-editing another volume entitled Dance and the Early South Indian Cinema (forthcoming). Prior to coming to the University of Pennsylvania, Prof. Soneji taught at McGill University in Montreal, Canada for over twelve years.  He is currently working a new book on the social history of rāga-based music in South India from the late eighteenth to the mid-twentieth centuries, as well as a collection of his unpublished essays on the social history of Bharatanāṭyam.

Indira Viswanathan Peterson

Indira Viswanathan Peterson is Professor of Asian Studies, Emerita, at Mount Holyoke College. She specializes in Indian literature (Sanskrit, Tamil and Marathi), Hinduism, south Indian cultural history, Karnatak music and south Indian performing arts, European-Asian culture contact, and comparative literature. She has published widely on these subjects. She has held a number of research fellowships, including fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies and the National Endowment for the Humanities.  Dr. Peterson’s publications include: Poems to Śiva: The Hymns of the Tamil Saints (1989); Design and Rhetoric in a Sanskrit Court Epic: The Kirātārjunīya of Bhāravi (2003); Arjuna and the HunterBhāravi’s Kirātārjunīya (Murty Classical Library of India 2016); George Michell and Indira Peterson, The Great Temple at Thanjavur: A Thousand Years. 1010 – 2010 (2010); Performing Pasts: Reinventing the Arts in modern South India, co-edited with Davesh Soneji (2008); and Tamil Geographies: Cultural Constructions of Space and Place in South India, co-edited with Martha Selby (2007). Indira Peterson is currently completing Serfoji of Tanjore: Enlightenment and Princely Modernity in Colonial India, a biography of the polymath and patron Serfoji II. In progress is the monograph Dramathe Court, and the Public in Early Modern India, focusing on dance drama, especially the Kuravanji fortune-teller dramas at the Thanjavur Maratha court.

Anand Venkatkrishnan

 

Anand Venkatkrishnan is Preceptor in Sanskrit in the Department of South Asian Studies at Harvard University. He received his Ph.D. in South Asian Religions from Columbia University (2015). His book in progress, Love in the Time of Scholarship, examines the relationship of bhakti, religion as lived affect, with philosophy as intellectual practice. It also demonstrates how vernacular ways of knowing pushed through the glass ceiling of Sanskrit intellectuality. Anand was most recently appointed Asoke Kumar Sarkar Junior Research Fellow at Balliol College, Oxford (2015-17). He fills his spare time with sports commentary, pop culture, and translations of Sanskrit poetry at http://apurvaracana.tumblr.com.

MUSICIANS
 

Geeta Shankar

 

Geeta Shankar is a 12th grader. She started playing the veena when she was 5 years old and has received tutelage from Shrimathi Vijaya Balasubramaniam and Shri Shrikanth Chary. She has also been learning Carnatic vocal music since the age of 4 and currently from Shri Neyveli Santhanagopalan. She enjoys helping her guru with his many projects such as EPIC choir. Geeta is the recipient of Carnatic Music Idol Junior USA 2014, Carnatic Music Idol Senior USA 2014, IndianRaga Fellow 2014, 2016 Advanced Pallavi Winner, and IndianRaga Fellow 2018. Geeta regularly accompanies Carnatic concerts and plays for Bharatnatyam arangetrams and Kuchipudi rangapraveshams. A co-founder of RAGA^N, Geeta organizes music and dance fundraisers with her friends to raise money for Second Harvest Food Bank. Other than Carnatic music, Geeta enjoys singing acapella with her high school team and doing cutting-edge research in resting-state functional MRI at Stanford University. 

Ajay Gopi

 

Ajay Gopi has been learning mridangam for the past 10 years from his father Sri. Gopi Lakshminarayanan (Disciple of late Sri. Kumbakonam Narayananswamy). He also receives additional training from Sri. Kallidaikurichi Sivakumar (Disciple of Late Sri. Palghat Raghu). Ajay had his arangetram on July 2013 with Sri. Neyveli Santhanagopalan on Vocal and Hemmige V. Srivatsan on Violin. He regularly performs in the Chennai December Music Season and has performed in many prestigious Sabhas in Chennai such as Krishna Gana Sabha, Indian Fine Arts, Naradha Gana Sabha, Brahma Gana Sabha, Rasika Ranjani Sabha, etc.  Ajay has won 1st prize in many competitions at regional, national and international levels.  He accompanies various senior and junior artists on regular basis on live as well as recorded events.  Ajay is a sophomore at the University of California, Berkeley.

Man

 

Manasa Suresh was initiated into Carnatic music under her mother, Anu Suresh. Since 2008, Manasa has been a disciple of Padma Bhushan Sri. P. S. Narayanaswamy. She also receives guidance from Kunnakudi Sri. M. Balamurali Krishna, one of the prime disciples of Sri. PSN. Manasa has won many prizes over the years, including the Times Thyagaraja Award from the Times of India, the Sangeeta Yuva Puraskar Award from Kalalaya, USA, and the Yuva Prathibha Award from VVS Foundation, Chennai. She has also performed at various venues in the US, UK, and India, and is a regular feature at the annual Cleveland Thyagaraja Festival and the Chennai December season. A Fulbright alumnus in the field of Carnatic music and a graded artist of All India Radio, Chennai, Manasa is currently a graduate student at the University of California, Davis, and teaches science in the Bay Area.

Akshay Prabhakaran

 

Akshay Prabhakaran is a Freshman at Santa Clara University. He is a senior student of Sri Gopi lakshminarayanan, and completed his mridangam arangetram in September 2016 accompaning Vidwan Shri Sikkil Gurucharan. In 2015, Akshay and four like-minded high school students  founded team RAGA^N. Centered around the themes  of South Indian music and dance, these fundraisers gave opportunities for young and budding children to showcase their talent on stage. They raised over 20,000 dollars, ultimately given to the Second Harvest Food Bank to provide over 40,000 meals to their neighbors in need. SHFB  recognized team RAGA^N as “Outstanding Youth” and gave them Blue Diamond Award. Akshay has also won awards at Papanasam sivan and Cleveland Aradhana competitions. He continues to accompany many Bay Area artists through organizations such as LOTUS, SRFA and Mahaperiyavaa Mandali during music season and youth festivals.

Radhika Bhalerao

 

Radhika Bhalerao began her musical journey in Hindustani Classical music at the tender age of four. Radhika is very fortunate to have learned vocal and violin from Violin Maestra Kala Ramnath. Radhika has given several performances in many major US cities and in India. She was invited to perform a solo in the prestigious National Center for Performing Arts Mumbai to inspire school children to learn music. In Chicago, at the 150th Birth Anniversary Celebrations of Swami Vivekananda, Radhika received a standing ovation from dignitaries and a crowd of 2,000 attendees after rendering Swami Vivekananda’s composition in Raag Darbari. She was the youngest artist invited to perform in the Avartan Music Festival hosted by University of California at Los Angeles. Radhika has collaborated with IndianRaga to create several unique renditions and fusions that received overwhelming response from social media. She is also an exponent of Western Classical violin; she was the Concertmaster of her high school orchestra where she performed at the famous Carnegie Hall in New York City. Radhika is a freshman at the University of California at Berkeley pursuing bioengineering.

Vikas Yendluri

 

Vikas Yendluri is a San Francisco based tabla artist. He has been a disciple of Sri Arshad Syed since the age of 5, and has also been studying with Ustad Zakir Hussain. Vikas has accompanied some of the most illustrious artists of Indian classical music in concerts across the United States -- including Ustad Shahid Parvez, Pandit Rajeev Taranath, and Pandit Partha Chatterjee. Apart from music, Vikas is an alumni of Stanford University and a software engineer at a startup in San Francisco. 
Sowmya

 

Vidushi S. Sowmya is one of the world’s leading exponents of the Carnatic (South Indian classical) tradition of vocal music. She is reputed for her deeply classical style and for her large repertoire spanning a wide spectrum of composers, including some of the rarest works of the Carnatic Trinity. She is also a passionate promoter and practitioner of Tamizh Isai – the ancient classical and folk music traditions of Tamil Nadu. Dr. Sowmya is also a fine exponent of the Saraswati Vina, one of the world’s oldest musical instruments. She is also known for her path-breaking research work in enhancing the tonal stability of the mridangam, the pre-eminent percussion instrument in South Indian music. In addition to her numerous musical accomplishments, Sowmya earned a PhD from the University of Madras for her research on music and science. She has holds two Masters degrees in Chemistry and Music.

Ranjani Ramakrishnan

 

Ranjani Ramakrishnan was trained in Carnatic violin by her mother & artist, Smt.Seetha Ramakrishnan from the age of 4 and this upbringing, paved the way for a bright, musical future. She also received vocal training from Smt.Latha Ramchand. Ranjani is a grade 'A' artist with the All India Radio and Doordarshan, India and has performed alongside several eminent artists in India, Usa, Canada , Singapore, Muscat & Abu Dhabi.  She has received The YSNM Award at Khajuraho,  The “PanditJasraj Award” for Classical Music, in collaboration with the Vedic Heritage Inc., New York, The Dr.T.S Trimurthi Endowment Award from The Music Academy, Chennai , The 'Naada Sunadha Sundaram Award' bestowed by 'The Bharatanjali Trust', Chennai and the title "Isai Arasi" from The Trinity Fine Arts Academy, Chennai.  She has a great passion for sound editing techniques and is working on a 'Meditative sounds' audio project named "AUM" with her sister, Radhika.  Ranjani was highly acclaimed for her contribution as ‘The Carnatic Music Coordinator’ of the movie ''Morning Raga ’, starring veteran actor, Shabana Azmi. Ranjani holds a certification in ‘Logic Pro’ from Apple Inc., USA and has a Masters Degree in Commerce from The University of Mumbai, India.

Vignesh Venkataraman

Vignesh Venkataraman is a mridangam artist hailing from Umayalpuram Sri K. Sivaraman’s school of music. Vignesh was initiated into playing mridangam by Sri Anand Iyer, also from the same school. Over a period of 5 years, Vignesh traveled to India every summer to undergo advanced training under the tutelage of Umayalpuram Sri K. Sivaraman.  

Vignesh has accompanied various artists, including many senior musicians, in numerous concerts all over the US and in India. He won the Best Mridangist award at the Spirit of Youth festival held by the Madras Music Academy in 2013.

Vignesh is also learning vocal Carnatic music from Smt. Meena Kothandaraman, and more recently from violinist Sri R.K. Shriramkumar. He holds multiple degrees from Stanford University.