Indian/Western classical crossover icon, Chitravina N Ravikiran collaborated with the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra this weekend to honor two of the greatest composers of the early nineteenth century. German composer Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) holds one of the most esteemed positions in the Western (european) classical music tradition. Carnatic composer Muthuswami Dikshitar (1775-1835) holds an equally esteemed place in the South Indian musical tradition. Depending on your musical background, one of these two composers might be very familiar to you, while the other might be relatively unknown — and yet they were both inconic in their own musical traditions. These composers, though contemporaries, have rarely (if ever) been performed side by side. But the Melharmony Festival aims to jusxtapose the works of these two masters.
Ravikiran has developed his own particular methodology for Indian/Western musical crossover, called Melharmony, which he teaches to pupils in the midwest and worldwide. Ravikiran explains it as “showcasing the similarities between various systems of music, which can enable their contrasts to be appreciated even more positively.” In past years, the festival included juxtapositions of Oottukkadu Venkata Kavi (1700-65) and Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750), as well as Tyagaraja (1767-1874) and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791).
The event, which took place at Mills College on November 8, 2015, included scholarly discussions by Prof. Robert Morris from the Eastman School of Music on Dikshitar & Beethoven, performances of works by professional ensembles, competitions and short recital opportunities for students, culminating in a performance by Maestro Chitravina N Ravikiran and the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra conducted by Maestro Andrew Sewell.