Geetha Bennett (Veena) with
Sriram Natarajan (Mridangam) and
Balaji Chandran (Ghatam)

November 06, 2011 5:00 PM


HHH Cowles Auditorium
University of Minnesota, Minneapolis
Sriram NatarajanGeetha BennettBalaji Chandran

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About the Artists

Geetha Bennett

Accomplished veena and vocal artist Geetha Ramanathan Bennett is dedicated to continuing the tradition of her guru and father Sangeetha Kalanidhi Dr. S Ramanathan.

Geetha has performed extensively in India, the U.S., U.K., Canada, Australia, and Singapore. She was the first veena player to perform in Hong Kong and has appeared in many prestigious venues and series. She has been awarded the highest rank, "A Top" for veena performance by All India Radio/TV for the last ten years. Her performances have been broadcast by Indian National T.V., All India Radio, the Singapore Broadcasting System, and Malaysian Television.

Her experiments with the fusion of Indian classical music and western styles began in the mid 1990's when she was invited to perform as a veena soloist in selections of 'Scheherazade' with the Colgate University Orchestra and conductor Dr. William Skelton in Hamilton, New York. Other fusion projects have included a major tour of Europe and the U.S. with percussionist Trilok Gurtu's world music ensemble 'The Glimpse'. Geetha has also performed both as a veena player and vocalist on guitarist Andy Summers' fusion album 'Peggy's Blue Skylight' showcasing compositions of jazz bassist Charles Mingus.

Geetha sang on the Marc Rossi Group's critically acclaimed new CD "Hidden Mandala," released in 2008. Her Carnatic improvisations, and melodic enhancement of Rossi's jazz and Indian influenced compositions led one critic to comment: "...this is truly global fusion." A second CD by the group is scheduled for released later in 2009.

Her vocal rendition of 'Mokshamugalada' composed by Saint Thyagaraja and arranged by Dr. Frank Bennett has been released by Oxford University Press in the book, 'Music in South India' by Dr. T. Viswanathan and Dr. Matthew Harp Allen.

Geetha sang for the Hollywood feature film 'The Guru' and her veena can be heard in the Imax film 'Everest'. She played the veena and sang in the musical production 'The Creation' (score composed by Jeff Atmajian), which was performed in the Crystal Cathedral, Costa Mesa, California in 2006.

In April 2009 the Indian Fine Arts Academy of San Diego presented Geetha with the title 'Sangita Kalaamani' at their 3 day Thyagaraja festival. 

Geetha was awarded the 'Best Veena player of the season' by Indian Fine Arts Society in December 2008 and by Narada Gana Sabha, Chennai in December 2006. She has received the Dr.Padmavati Ammal Endowment Prize and the Chellapally Ranga Rao Award endowed by Sri Chitti Babu for her veena concert at the Madras Music Academy.

She has been recorded by Oriental Records, New York; Sangita Asian Music Society, California; AVM Audios; Sangeetha Cassettes; and Inreco, India.

In addition to her musical activities Geetha has established herself as an accomplished short story writer in the Tamil language. She has had more than one hundred publications. One of her stories has received the prestigious 'Ilakkiya Chindanai' award. She is honored to have her short story 'Viddiyaasam' included in a collection of major Tamil writers edited by famous author Mrs. Shivasankari.

Sriram Natarajan

Sriram started training on the Mridangam at the age of 9, under the veteran Guru Sri K V Maniappan in Mumbai.  Sriram has had advanced training from the Late Sangeetha Kalanidhi Padma Sri Palghat Raghu. He is presently under the able tutelage and guidance of Tanjavur Sri Murugaboopathy,

His style of accompaniment is very adaptive to both instrumental and vocal music. Sriram regularly accompanies renowned and upcoming artistes in India during the December music season in Chennai.  He also travels around the US and has performed at several venues.

Sriram is a resident of Apple Valley MN and is the founder of the Layyasaaram school of music.

Balaji Chandran

Balaji Chandran started his Carnatic percussion studies in Mridangam under Sri. Kovai Mani and Sri. Kadayanallur Narayana Iyer. He learned the Ghatam from Sri. Ghatam V.Suresh. He has been an accompanist to many artists in the US and India, including Sangeetha Kalanidhi Sri. R.K Srikantan, Prof. Ramakanth, Sri. Neyveli Santhanagopalan, and current generation artists such as Smt. Nirmala Rajasekar, Smt. Sikkil Mala Chandrashekar, Sri Suryaprakash, Sri. Kunnakudi Balamuralikrishna, Sri. Mullaivasal Chandramauli, Sri. Mysore Chandan Kumar, Sri A.S. Murali, and Sri Shankaran Mahadhevan. He has performed in prestigious venues like the Chennai Music Academy, Naradha Ghana Sabha, and Sri Ranjani Sabha.

He has been part of the Aradhana celebrations in Minnesota for the past 10 years and has performed in many venues across the US. He features in a Carnatic Audio album called “Song of the Veena.”  He was part of an ensemble that won the top honors in the recently conducted Carnatic music competition held in Chennai by International Society of Laya Awareness. He has collaborated with St. Olaf Collage Jazz band and Brass Kings, an American Blue Grass Jazz band.He has lent Mridangam and Ghatam support for  Bharathanatyam Arengetrams. He is also adept at playing the Kanjira. 

About the Venue:
The Cowles Auditorium is located across the street from the 19th Ave Ramp, in the Hubert H Humphrey Center, University of MN, West Bank campus, Minneapolis. The 21st Ave Ramp is also convenient.

Map of Hubert H. Humphrey Center, University of Minnesota, West Bank, Minneapolis

To get to the 19th Ave Parking Ramp:

  • 35W to U of MN exit (Washington Ave S). East on Washington to Cedar Ave S. South on Cedar Ave S to 3rd St S. East on 3rd St S 1/ 2 block.
  • I94 to Cedar Ave S. North on Cedar Ave S to 3rd St S. East on 3rd St S 1/ 2 block.
  • Washington Ave SE from U of MN east bank. Exit on Cedar Ave. S. South on Cedar Ave S to 3rd St S. East on 3rd St S 1/ 2 block.


IMSOM’s Fall 2011 Concert Series has been made possible, in part, by funds provided by the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council’s (MRAC) Arts Activities Support (AAS) Grant, through an appropriation by the Minnesota State Legislature, the Honeywell “Dollars for Doers” Grant, the Xcel Energy “Dollars for Doing” Grant, and IMSOM members and donors. These concerts are co-sponsored by KFAI Radio (90.3FM in Mpls/106.7FM in St. Paul).

For further information contact:
Durgesh Manjure
Ameeta Kelekar



IMSOM, established in 1980, is a registered non-profit (501(c)(3)) organization serving Minneapolis-St.Paul and the greater Twin Cities Metro Area.

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