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Beyond Borders

Aditya Kalyanpur, recently named by the Hindustan Times as one of Mumbai’s Fifty Young Stars (to be specific – he was number 3!) is a hugely versatile performer. He has performed often with Hindustani legends like flutist Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia and santoor player Pt. Shivkumar Sharma, but he also works with musicians from other traditions.

In the video below, Kalyanpur performs with Max ZT, who has been lauded by NPR as the “Jimi Hendrix of the Hammered Dulcimer”. Max ZT comes from an Irish-based training, but has augmented his palette to include Senegalese and Hindustani training as well. ZT actually studied under santoor maestro Pt. Shivkumar Sharma in Mumbai as well! (note that the hammer dulcimer and the santoor are essentially the same instrument — but of course the music and techniques vary considerably between traditions)

Also joining them onstage are percussionist Matt Pert, and Saili Oak Kalyanpur, a master vocalist and disciple of renowned vocalist Ashwini Bhide Deshpande.

Thumbprint: composer/soprano Kamala Sankaram tells the story of Mukhtar Mai in a new opera

This past January, Kamala Sankaram‘s new opera Thumbprint was premiered at the Prototpe Festival. Thumbrint tells the daring story of Mukhtar Mai, a Pakistani woman who, in 2002, refused to commit suicide after being raped (as was customary in her society). Sankaram’s opera, which was described by New York Classical Review as, “searingly, overpoweringly beautiful”, brings her story to life with full force.

Sankaram’s decision to sing the lead role in the opera was necessitated in part by the relatively small number of South Asian opera singers. She says:

The Muhktar part in thumbrint is a lyric coloratura part. It was very important to me that the cast be South Asian, or [have] as many South Asian singers as possible, and we didn’t find any lyric coloratura singers. Part of it was that there didn’t seem to be anyone else that could do it.

While Sankaram points out an issue that has been echoed by other composers writing vocal music on South Asian topics, she also does an incredible job of singing the title role herself.

In her candid interview with New Music Box magazine, Sankaram reflects on her sources of inspiration, her compositional process, and her hopes for opera in the future:

In conversation with Hilary Hahn and Kala Ramnath

In November 2013, internationally acclaimed Western violinist Hilary Hahn released her groundbreaking CD In 27 Pieces: The Hilary Hahn Encores. She commissioned a wide range of composers to write short encore pieces. One of her collaborators was celebrated Hindustani violinist Kala Ramnath.

Watch as these two incredible violinists from very different performance traditions speak to one another about their collaboration:

You can listen to an excerpt from Ramnath’s encore, Aalap and Tarana here.

Shankar Tucker at The INK Conference

You might be fascinated by the mechanics of Shankar Tucker‘s adaptation of Hindustani music for the clarinet. Or you might just love his YouTube channel, which features arrestingly beautiful arrangements and mashups of popular American and Bollywood songs, as well as his own new compositions.

In his recently released talk from The INK Conference in Pune, Shankar gives us some insight into his journey and his creative process (and even performs live!)