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This episode of BIC Talks is an edited version of the first half of a live online event hosted by the South Asian Symphony Foundation. The foundation’s co-founder Ambassador Menon Rao spoke to five artistes from across South Asia. The full event can be accessed on the SASF YouTube channel.
On another note, South Asian Symphony Orchestra’s Nivanthi Karunaratne, will be representing SASO in the Hope & Harmony Ensemble, formed by Washington-based Classical Movements, for the U.S. Presidential inauguration on the 20th of January, 2021.
From the majestic Himalayan peaks to the waters of the Indian Ocean, South Asia boasts of diverse landscapes. So too are the inhabitants of this region with their rich cultural heritage, distinct musical traditions and exceptional linguistic diversity. Permeating all aspects of life, music acts as a conduit that communicates a plethora of emotions, traditions, values and narratives of the lives of the people. From farmers of Sri Lanka who sing on their night watch to keep their crops safe from wild animals to boatmen in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh whose singing pierces placid rivers, to exuberant rhythms that infuse family gatherings with unparalleled energy, and the songs of the Afghan people, music in South Asia takes many forms and tells many stories as it accompanies the ebb and flow of more than a billion lives.
Although diverse in form and style, South Asian music is the creative expression of a people living in close proximity to each other. Music evolves with people and there are similarities as there are differences as genres influence each other. Collectively, South Asian music stands out on the global stage with its unique timbre, tempo and dynamics.
As a vocalist in the Karnatik tradition, Thodur Madabusi Krishna’s musicality eludes standard analyses. Uncommon in his rendition of music and original in his interpretation of it, Krishna is at once strong and subtle, manifestly traditional and stunningly innovative.
In 2016, Krishna received the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay Award in recognition of ‘his forceful commitment as artist and advocate to art’s power to heal India’s deep social divisions’. In 2017 he received the Indira Gandhi Award for National Integration Award for his services in promoting and preserving national integration in the country. In 2017, he has also received the Professor V Aravindakshan Memorial Award for connecting Carnatic music with the common man.
His latest book Sebastian and Sons traces the history of the mridangam-maker and the mridangam over the past 100 years.
Born and raised in Lahore, Pakistan, Ali Sethi apprenticed under classical singers Ustad Naseeruddin Saami, a doyen of Delhi Gharānā, and Farida Khanum. After majoring in South Asian Studies from Harvard University, he published a semi-autobiographical novel, The Wish Maker, about politics and family in Pakistan. Ali is known to audiences in India because of his performances through Coke Studio.
Nirupama Menon Rao
Nirupama Menon Rao was Foreign Secretary of India (2009-2011) She was Ambassador of India to China (2006-2009) and Ambassador of India to the United States from 2011 to 2013. Ambassador Rao is a Founder-Trustee with her husband, Sudhakar, of The South Asian Symphony Foundation (www.symphonyofsouthasia.org) – a not-for-profit Trust which is dedicated to promoting mutual understanding in South Asia through the creation of a South Asian Symphony Orchestra