Appreciating Carnatic Music

Part 1: Lead Vocal & Instrumental
K N Shashikiran (Vocal)
Nirmala Rajasekar (Veena)
Vasudha Ravi (Vocal)
B V Raghavendra Rao (Violin)

Part 2: Rhythm & Accompaniment
Thanjavur Murugaboopathi (Mridangam)
S V Ramani (Ghatam)
Sriram Iyer (Mridangam)

Saturday, September 24, 2:00 PM CST

Pohlad Hall Minneapolis Central Library
300 Nicollet Mall Minneapolis , MN 55401

Tickets: FREE (Donations Welcome)

IMSOM Membership Page.
About the Artists

K N Shashi Kiran (Vocal)

Carnatic vocalist K.N. Sashikiran hails from a family of renowned musicians. He is the son of the accomplished ‘Chitravina’ Narasimhan and the grandson of the legendary Gottuvadhyam Narayana Iyengar. He emerged a child prodigy with a talent for identifying ragas, demonstrating complicated talas, and answering technical questions put to him. He underwent musical training under the tutelage of stalwarts like T. Brinda, T.Viswanathan and Calcutta K.S. Krishnamurthy.

With an exemplary academic record, he is also a keen writer and contributes articles and reviews to newspapers and websites. He established Carnatica – a centre for the complete education of Carnatic music, and runs it with Carnatic vocalist S. Sowmya.

He obtained a Bachelor's degree in music from the University of Madras where he ranked first. Then followed a Master's degree in music from the University of Madras and excelled as a gold medallist. He is currently working towards achieving a doctorate on "Teaching Methodology in Carnatic Music". Alongside he also holds a diploma in Audio and Video Technology.

Shashikiran has won many accolades for his talent. He was awarded the Rani Sethulakshmi Bai Memorial Award in 1990, the Best Pallavi Singer for his concert at the Rasika Ranjani. In 1997 he received an award for being the Best Exponent of Any Raga from the Music Academy, He received the award from the Carnatic Music Association of North America in 1998 for being the Best Vocalist and finally the Bharat Nirman Excellence Award in 1999 for meritorious accomplishments in diverse fields of activity that have immensely contributed to the nation's progress. He is the youngest person and the first musician in India to receive this honour. He was the recipient of the Ford Foundation scholarship on the ‘Veena Dhanammal Bani’ in 1990.

K.N.Shashikiran and P.Ganesh sing together as Carnatica Brothers. The duo is very successful as performers, mentors and scholars in music.

Nirmala Rajasekar (Veena)

World-renowned musician and Kalaimamani Awardee Nirmala Rajasekar is a dynamic Carnatic veena player, vocalist, composer, and educator. She is celebrated around the globe for her exquisite tone, vibrant musicality, captivating stage presence, and sensitive artistry. A passionate educator, Nirmala is at the vanguard of artists working to make the world a more equitable place for all. 
Nirmala Rajasekar is one of the premier Saraswathi veena players in the world today. A dynamic and vibrant musician, she performs in the leading venues in India and around the world, including Sawai Gandharva Mahotsav (Pune), the Music Academy (Chennai), Carnegie Hall (New York), United Nations (New York) and the Rumi International Festival (Turkey). An established vocalist and well-known composer, Nirmala is seen internationally as a "Carnatic Ambassador" and leader in forging new paths on the Saraswati Veena. She is a recipient of the Kalaimamani Award from the Government of Tamil Nadu, the highest honor in the arts.

Born in Chennai on December 11, Nirmala began her performing career at the age of 13. She trained with veteran Gurus Devakottai Shri Narayana Aiyyangar, Smt. Kamala Aswathama, Smt. G.Chennamma, Smt E.P. Alamelu, and Shri A.D. Zachariah, before coming under the guidance of veteran Vidhushi Prof. Smt. Kalpakam Swaminathan, with whom she studied for nearly 30 years. Nirmala has also been mentored by Veena Maestro Dr. S. Balachander in several aspects of music and in the presentation of lectures and demonstrations. Nirmala has studied vocal music with Gurus Shri Prof. T R Subramanyam, Shri B. Sitarama Sarma, and Shri Calcutta K.S.Krishnamurthy. She has had the good fortune of receiving guidance from violin legends Shri M.S. Anantharaman (in concert presentation methods) and Shri Lalgudi Jayaraman (in the study of his Varnams and Thillanas). She continues to be guided by eminent musicologist and composer Dr. B.M. Sundaram in her research projects, a journey that began in 2006 with the story of Shakuntala from Abhijnanashakuntalam, the great Sanskrit play by poet Kalidasa. Her music highlights the rich parampara of her Gurus. Her unique and creative presentation style has won her many followers across the world.

Nirmala has performed at several world-renowned venues including Siri Fort (New Delhi), Carnegie Hall, United Nations (New York), Sawai Gandharva Mahotsav (Pune), the Music Academy, Narada Gana Sabha, Kalakshetra (Chennai), Gayana Samaja (Bengaluru), Chembur Fine Arts (Mumbai), Kolkotta Performing Arts Festival (Kolkotta), Rumi International Festival (Konya, Turkey), Musee Rietburg (Zurich, Switzerland) and many other venues in India, USA, Australia, New Zealand, Europe, Indonesia and Singapore. She is regularly featured in the world-famous Chennai Music Festival in December, performing solos and Jugalbandhis with Carnatic and Hindustani legends. She has performed for world luminaries such as His Excellency the President of India late Dr. Abdul Kalam and Jazz great Ornette Coleman. Nirmala has been on the panel of artists of the Indian Council of Cultural Relations since 1987. She has performed for Sangeet Natak Akademy events, such as the Maharana Kumbh Parishad in Udaipur.

A celebrated composer, Nirmala has written traditional and collaborative music for orchestras, bands, choruses, theatre, and chamber ensembles in Indian and Western classical music. In 2020, she was chosen for the distinguished honor as the Annual Commissioned Composer of the University of Wisconsin, River Falls. Now in its 54th year, the program features the top composers in modern history, many of whom are Pulitzer Prize winners. Nirmala is their first Indian-woman composer composer, and their first ever composer from a traditional art form. In 2019, she pioneered the Veena-Gaanam ensemble at the Cleveland Thyagaraja Aradhana featuring 70 performers on veena, vocals, and percussion. Nirmala has received grants and funding from organizations including the Jerome Foundation, New Music USA, American Composers Forum, and Meet the Composer. She has been commissioned by leading arts organizations, universities, and ensembles across the USA and India, including the American Composers Alliance, Schubert Club, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Carnatica (India), Chennayil Thiruvaiyaru (India), Kalakshetra (India), the Cleveland Thyagaraja Festival, Zeitgeist New Music Ensemble, St. Olaf College, the Jay Phillips Center for Interfaith Learning, University of St. Thomas, EcoArts Festival, Walker Arts Center, Ragamala Dance Company, Khambatta Dance Company, Aniccha Arts, Katha Dance Theatre, Pangea World Theatre, Playwright Center, and LDQ Film Productions.

Many institutions have recognized Nirmala for her contributions; some of them are listed here: in 2006, the doyen of Carnatic Music Dr. Balamurali Krishna, who supported her work for several years, conferred upon her the title "Naadha Kala Vipanchee." She has received several awards from leading organizations - The Music Academy, Narada Gana Sabha,  Sri Krishna Gana Sabha, Bangalore Gayana Samaja, Chennai Cultural Trust; Vocational Excellence Award (Rotary Club International), Veena Sudar Oli, Women of Substance Award 2014, Veena Kala Vithakar (Veenalayam Toronto), and a Lifetime Achievement Award (India Association of Minnesota). The Delhi Telugu Academy recognized Nirmala as "Prathibha Puraskar." Nirmala was conferred the "Swararaga Saragyar" Award from his Holiness Shri Andavan Swamy by Shri Panchamukha Anjaneyar Festival, "Asthana Vidwan" by the Hindu Society of Minnesota, and "Gandharva Vidhyadara" Award from Irai Pani Manram Chennai. At the famed Cleveland Aradhana USA, Nirmala was awarded the TRS Memorial Award for excellence in teaching. She is a recipient of the Kalaimamani Award from the Government of Tamil Nadu, the highest honor in the arts. Nirmala has been awarded numerous grants and fellowships by leading American organizations. She is the first Indian musician to receive the Bush Fellowship and the McKnight Fellowship.

Nirmala has been featured on TV and Radio around the world. An A grade artiste of Indian Radio and Television since 1990, she has been seen and heard in several concerts for All India Radio's National Programme of Music, Doordarshan's National Programme of Music, South Zone concerts, and broadcasts for the Chennai, Bombay, Bangalore and New Delhi stations.
Nirmala has recorded extensively over the four decades of her career, and has received international acclaim for her multiple albums. Her recording with the 3-time Grammy-award-winning group "Sounds of Blackness" won "Outstanding World Music Album of the Year" from the NAACP Image Awards in 2012. Her music is in BBC's Library of World artists, and she has been featured multiple times on ABC Australian Broadcasting Corporation and PBS Television in the USA. Her work has been produced by various leading labels, including Sangeetha (India), Charsur Digital Works Station (India), Innova Recordings (USA), Shruthilaya (India), and Tompkins Square (USA). In Oct 2018, Nirmala released her latest collaborative album “Maithree: the Music of Friendship,” featuring veena, cello, clarinet, saxophone, voice, mridangam and Middle-Eastern percussion. This album has received worldwide recognition, including a starred review from the premier world music magazine Songlines, UK and has been among the top world music albums in several countries, including Italy and Spain.

In addition to performing and composing, Nirmala is a leader in initiatives of research in music, social causes, and service. She leads organizations that support performing musicians, composers, music educators and creators. Nirmala serves as a Vice President of the Global Carnatic Musicians' Association, an organization created to be a unified voice for Carnatic musicians. In 2022 Nirmala was elected as Chair of the Board of Directors of the American Composers Forum, a national organization for composers and music creators in the USA; she previously served as Co-Chair. She is the first India-born woman to serve in this position.

As a researcher, she has presented papers, lecture-demonstrations, and masterclasses for many organizations including Sri Parthasarathy Swamy Sabha (Dec 2018), Layyasaaram Institute of Fine Arts (Oct 2019), Karnataka Gana Kala Parishat Vidwat Sadas Bangalore: Golden Jubilee (Feb 2020), Kutir (Oct 2020), and IFAASD (April 2021). Her works "Sacred Water," "Embracing the Beloved," "Song of Wonder," and "Elemental Spirit: Respect and Responsibility" have all been developed from many months and years of research and study.

Nirmala is a passionate educator who believes in passing on the art to the next generation with sincerity and dedication. She established the Naadha Rasa Center for Music and has served as its artistic director for the past 27 years. Her students are accomplished veena players, vocalists, and composers. As a teaching artist, she has conducted residencies, workshops, and classroom teaching sessions for numerous institutions, including SPICMACAY, Princeton University, Young Audiences America, COMPAS, and Minnesota State Arts Board.

In September 2019, Nirmala founded "Naadharasa," a charitable organization for the propagation of Indian classical music and the Saraswathi veena. Since its inception, Naadharasa has supported the January 2020 Yuva Utsav of young performers from several disciplines in Chennai, and workshops on Carnatic rhythm. During the pandemic, Naadharasa has raised funds to support the families of COVID-19 victims.

Biography sourced from

Vasudha Ravi (Vocal)

A prominent vocalist in the field of Carnatic Music, Vasudha Ravi has been a disciple of Dr (Mrs) Manjula Sriram for over two decades.  She also briefly learnt from Vidwan A Sundaresan.  Vasudha Ravi holds a dual Masers degree in Music and HR.  She is an A grade artiste in All India Radio.

Vasudha Ravi has performed at Musica Sacra International Music Festival,Makartoberdorf, Germany, Les Sacrees Journees International Music Festival,Strasbourg,France.Performed Carnatic Vocal with the Beverian Youth Jazz Band–Lades Jugend Jazz Orchestra of Germany.  Besides India, she has presented traditional Carmatic Music across the globe including countries like Dhaka, Singapore, Myanmar, Muscat, Germany, France, and Jordan.

As a composer, she has composed music for thematic dance presentations with Padmashri Malavika Sarukkai, Padmashri Alarmel Valli, and Priya Govind.  She has worked on musical productions with Maestro Ilayaraja, and Sri Rajkumar Bharati

Vasudha Ravi has recieved the following awards and prizes:
  •     “Shanmukha Sangeetha Shironmani” from Bombay Sri Shanmukhananda Sabha
  •     Prof. Mahalingam Padmanabhan Endowment award instituted by Narada Gana Sabha
  •     Dr.M.L.Vasanthakumari Award (instituted Dr.Sudha Raghunathan) from Sri Parthasarathy Swami Sabha
  •     “Best Performer” – Vocalfrom Sri Parthasarathy Swami Sabha
  •     Sri Shanmukhananda Bharat Ratna Dr.M.S.Subbulakshmi Fellowship Award in Music from Bombay Sri Shanmukhananda Sabha for 3 years
  •     D.K.Pattammal Award of Excellence(instituted by Dr.Nithyashree Mahadevan) from Karthik Fine Arts
  •     RMKV Award of Excellence, from Rasika Fine Arts
  •     “Yuva Kala Bharathi” from Bharat Kalachar
  •     “Young Achiever’s Award” by Madras North-West Rotary.

B V Raghavendra Rao (Violin)

B V Raghavendra Rao hails from a distinguished family of musicians. He was initiated into the niceties of music at an early age of seven by his father B.Sudarsana Rao.

Attracted by the lure of classical music from his childhood, he trained rigorously on the violin for several years and he is presently the disciple of the violin “Maestro” Sangeetha Kalanidhi Shri.T.N.Krishnan.  Later he received invaluable guidance and concert experience from Dr.M.Balamuralikrishna one of the greatest musicians India has produced in this century.

As a young artiste he received the appreciation of the President of India for accompanying the celebrated musical genius, and climbed the ladder of success as an accomplished, and one of the most popular violinist in the Carnatic music genre today.

He has won several prizes and awards from various sabhas in Chennai and has participated in the prestigious Bharat Cultural Integration Committee's (B.C.I.C) music festivals organized all over India.

Raghavendra Rao has performed internationally in numerous music festivals of I.C.C.R., and the prestigious "Festival of India" programs.  He has widely travelled all over the world, including the U.S.A, Canada, France, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Mauritius and the Middle Eastern countries.

Thanjavoor Murugaboopathi (Mridangam)

Thanjavur K Murugaboopathi belongs to a family of artists and musicians.

He  had  his  initial  training  under  Sri  T.R.Srinivasan,  a  Mridangam  Vidwan  and Lecturer in the Tamilnadu Government Music College.  After receiving the 'Vadhya Visharada' with distinction from the Music College, he came under the guidance of Late Sri Tanjore Upendran.  He learnt from the late maestro in the age old tradition of Gurukulavasam.

Sri Murugaboopathi has won numerous awards including the Vadya Kalaimani from the  Music  College,  Chennai,  the  Laya  Kala  Ratna  from  the  Tiruppur  Murugan Mandram,  the  Best  Artiste  Award  from  the  South  Indian  Music  Club,  Andhra Pradesh, the Music Academy and the Sivan Mandram, Sydney, Australia. 

Murugaboopathi can adapt his playing to any style of singing or instrumental music and  has  won  the  appreciation  of  the  artists  as  well  as  the  rasikas.    With  his uncompromising  orthodox  style  of  playing  he  gracefully  blends  the  best  of  the Pazhani Subramania Pillai and the Palghat Mani Iyer schools making him one of the most sought after mridangam players today.   Boopathi  as  he  is fondly  known  with  his  contemporaries,  regularly  accompanies leading artists such as Sangeetha Kalnidhis Shri Madurai T.N. Seshagopalan, Dr. N. Ramani,  Shri  T  V  Sankaranarayan,  the  Hyderabad  Brothers,  Mandolin  Srinivas, Sudha Ragunathan, and other contemporary artists such as Sanjay Subramaniam, T M Krishna, Bombay Jayashri and Aruna Sayeeram to name a few.

Within India, he has performed in various venues in most metros including New Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Thiruvananthapuram and across Tamil Nadu. Internationally, he is widely travelled on tour with the above reputed artists in North America including USA and Canada, in Europe including Great Britain, Scotland, Germany, Spain, Belgium, Turkey, South Africa, the Middle East at Dubai, Muscat, and Doha, South East Asia in Singapore and Malaysia, Australia and New Zealand.

S V Ramani (Ghatam)

S.V Ramani is an Indian percussionist. He is a senior exponent of the South Indian classical percussion instruments, the mridangam and the ghatam. His initial training was by his father, Late Shri Pallipuram R Seshamani (retired AIR staff artiste). He underwent further training under the world renowned Mridangist Kalaimamani Shri Guruvayur Dorai Initiating his concert performances at the age of eight, S.V Ramani has performed on the concert platform for the past 30 years.

His first public performance was at the age of 8 years. At a young age, he was fortunate to get opportunities to play for stalwarts like Dr.Balamurali krishna, Sri. T.N. Krishnan, Sri.Lalgudi Jayaraman, Sri.K.V.Narayanaswamy, Sri. D.K.Jayaraman, Sri. Nedunuri Krishnamurthy, Sri. M.S.Gopalakrishnan, Sri.Chittibabu, Sri R.K.Shrikantan…He has also accompanied many concerts with Maestros like Sri. Palakkad Raghu,Sri. Guruvayur Dorai , Sri. T.K.Moorthy, Sri. Vellore Ramabhadran, Sri.Umayalapuram Sivaraman, Sri. Trichy Sankaran, Thavil exponent Sri. A.K.Pazhanivel,and many more legends.

For the past three decades, he has continued to accompany several artistes and vidwans both in India and abroad like Sri. PS Narayanaswamy, Sri. N Ramani, Sri. TN Seshagopalan, Sri. TV Sankaranarayanan, Sri.M. Chandrasekaran, Sri. L. Subramaniam, Smt. Aruna Sairam, Sri. Mandolin U Srinivas, Smt. Veenai E.Gayathri, Sri. Kadri Gopalnath, Sri. Ganesh Kumaresh, Smt. Sudha Raghunathan, Sri. Neyveli Santhanagopalan…

He has collaborated with eminent Hindustani musicians like Pandit Jasraj, Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia, Ustad Amjad Ali Khan along with great tabla Maestros Ustad Zakir Hussain, Pandit Anindo Chatterjee and many contemporary musicians.

He has also worked with Cine music directors like Ilayaraja, Deva, Vidhyasagar for movies. He has performed for many CD recordings for leading musicians.

  • Performed for Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, President of India at Rashtrapathi Bhavan, New Delhi with Padmashri Mandolin U Srinivas
  • Performed for Indira Gandhi’s anniversary in Delhi for Congress President Sonia Gandhi, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and other ministers with Padmashri Smt Aruna Sairam
  • Performed at the Chief Minister Sheila Dixit’s residence in Delhi in the presence of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and other ministers with Padmashri Smt Aruna Sairam
  • Performed as a team member in “Tiranga” with Pandit Jasraj, Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasya, Javed Akhtar and Padmashri Mandolin U Srinivas
  • Performed for Jugalbandhis with Ustad Zakir Hussain & Ganesh Kumaresh; Shankar Mahadevan & Aruna Sairam; Hariharan & Mandolin Srinivas; Aruna Sairam & Mandolin Srinivas; with Ustad Amjad Ali Khan
  • Was invited to perform at the prestigious Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival with the Scottish jazz band AAB
  • Performed at the Indian consulate in Dubai for India’s 50th Indian Independence day with Padmashri Smt. Sudha Raghunathan.
  • Special invitation by the US consulate general to perform at the US embassy Chennai
  • Performed in charitable events conducted by Banyan Tree and many other organizations.
Awards & Accolades:
  •     KARTHIK AWARD OF EXCELLENCE from Karthik Fine Arts-April 2018.
  •     SriSriSwami Gyanananda Award and conferred title SANGEETHAMANI from Narada Gana Sabha's Guruji's Sammelan-2017
  •     SRI OPUL REDDY PERCUSSION AWARD- Awarded by the Narada Gana Sabha, Chennai.
  •     SRI KANCHI KAMAKOTI PEETAM ASTHANA VIDWAN- Awarded by Kanchi Mutt, Kanchipuram.
  •     BEST PERCUSSIONIST -Awarded by the Indian Fine Arts Sabha.

Sriram Iyer (Mridangam)

Sriram is a versatile artiste and collaborative world musician specializing in the classical South Indian instruments Mridangam (barrel drum) and Kanjira (Frame Drum).

Sriram is a student of Vidwan Tanjavur Sri Murugaboopathi. He started training on the Mridangam at the age of 9, under the veteran Guru Sri K V Maniappan in Mumbai, India.  Sriram has had advanced training from the Late maestro Sangeetha Kalanidhi Padma Sri Palghat Raghu.

Sriram regularly accompanies renowned and upcoming artistes in India during the December music season in Chennai, India. In the US and has performed at several prestigious venues in Boston, California, Chicago, Cleveland, Columbus, Connecticut, Madison, Milwaukee, Ohio, Philadelphia, New York, New Jersey and across the state of Minnesota.

Some of the renowned vocalists he has been fortunate to accompany include Shri M Balamuralikrishna, Shri T V Sankaranarayan, Shri N Ravikiran, Shri Neyveli Santhanagopalan, The Carnatica Brothers, Smt Gayathri Venkataraghavan, Smt Pantula Rama, Shri Kunnakkudi Balamuralikrishna, Shri R Suryaprakash, Shri V K Manimaran, Smt Alamelu Mani. 

Some of the renowned instrumental artistes he has had an opportunity to accompany include Pandit Vishwa Mohan Bhatt, the Mysore Brothers, Smt Mala Chandrashekar, Smt Nirmala Rajasekar, Smt Geetha Bennett, Smt Rajeswari Pariti, Smt Suma Sudhindra, Shri V K Raman and Shri Chandan Kumar.

Sriram has been featured on PBS (MN Original), Twin Cities Public Television (Geetmala), Wisconsin Public Radio, KFAI FM Radio, Festival of Nations and the State Fair in St Paul MN.

His noteworthy collaborations have included -
The St Olaf Jazz Band - Northfield, The Brass Kings - Minneapolis, A Jugalbandi concert rendition with Grammy Award winner - Pandit Vishwamohan Bhatt and rising star Keyboard artist - Sathya, Gayaki Mandolin - a carnatic music album with Mandolin Prakash.

Sriram is a resident of Excelsior MN and teaches students across the midwest.  He is the secretary of the Indian Music Society of Minnesota, the twin cities most respected and recognized organization promoting Indian Classical Arts and Culture.  He is the founder of the Layyasaaram Institute of Indian Arts, a Twin Cities based non-profit organization.

About the Venue:
Minneapolis Central Library is located at:  300 Nicollet Mall Minneapolis , MN 55401


This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.
IMSOM’s Concert Series are made possible, in part, by the UHG “United for Giving” program, matching grants from Honeywell, US Bank, 3M, Wells Fargo and Winnebago, generous donations from the Dr. Dash Foundation, late Dr. V. Premanand and family, and the generosity of IMSOM’s members and donors. Media partners for all concerts are KFAI Radio (90.3 FM Mpls/106.7 FM St. Paul) and IMSOM, established in 1980, is a registered non-profit (501(c)(3)) organization serving Minneapolis-St. Paul and the greater Twin Cities Metro Area.


For further information contact:

Ameeta Kelekar
Abhinav Sharma


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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