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BARD COLLEGE MUSIC DEPARTMENT PRESENTS TWO FREE CONCERTS OF INDIAN MUSIC THIS FALL "Kiranavali—Songs of South India" Takes Place on October 15 and "Kabir in Song: The Musical Life of a Great Religious Poet of India" on November 8

Darren O'Sullivan

ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y.—This fall, the Bard College Music Program is hosting two free concerts of Indian music, each featuring leading musicians from a different region of the country. The first concert, "Kiranavali—Songs of South India," takes place on Wednesday, October 15. The second, "Kabir in Song: The Musical Life of a Great Religious Poet of India," features music from northern India and takes place on Saturday, November 8. Both performances begin at 7 p.m. in Olin Hall and are free and open to the public. They are being presented by Bard in China and the Religion Program, with support from the Freeman Undergraduate Asian Studies Initiative.

"Kiranavali—Songs of South India" features vocalist Kiranavali Vidyasankar, violinist and vocalist Akkarai S. Subhalakshmi, and J. Vaidhyanathan on mridangam (double-headed drum). Kiranavali is a renowned Carnatic musician, specializing in vocals and the chitravina, and has been performing regularly since age five. She comes from the Narasimhan family, a family of highly respected Carnatic musicians, and is a much sought-after teacher. Her concerts have been featured in many leading halls and theaters in the United States and India, including the National Centre for the Performing Arts in Mumbai. She is the editor of and teaches at the Center for World Music in San Diego. Kiranavali's tour is sponsored by the Youth Association for Indian Classical Music.

Subhalakshmi was hailed as a child prodigy when she started giving violin and vocal recitals at age eight. She is the recipient of numerous awards for her work, has given solo recitals all over India and abroad, and has provided violin accompaniment for many of India's leading musicians. Vaidhyanathan is a highly accomplished mridangam player with more than 25 years of concert experience, including several visits to the United States. He is considered to be one of the best representatives of the Tanjavur style of Mridangam playing.

At the November 8 concert, Prahlad Singh Tipanya, a renowned folk singer from the Malwa region of Madhya Pradesh, will sing with members of his family and others in their regional style. Tipanya, who is widely know for his powerful and beautiful singing, will be supported by his brother Ashok Tipanya, who will sing and play manjira (small cymbals); his son Ajay Tipanya, who plays dholak (two-headed drum); and Devnarayan Sarolia, who plays violin. At the same concert, Dr. Krishna Kant Shukla of Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, will represent North Indian classical traditions, with special emphasis on the compositions of Kumar Gandharva. Shukla is a classical singer who has traveled extensively through rural India, studying, learning, recording, and performing folk songs with an emphasis on the relationship between folk and classical music. He has been honored by the former president of India Sri K. R. Narayanan for his performances and research. Professor Linda Hess, a Kabir scholar who teaches in the department of religious studies at Stanford University and who organized the Kabir singers' tour of the United States, will narrate and provide translations for these performances.

Kabir, the 15th-century weaver-poet of Varanasi, is still one of the most revered and popular saint-singers of North India. Kabir was an oral poet whose works were written down by others. His oral traditions have flourished for more than 500 years, producing a rich array of musical forms, folk and classical, in countless local dialects and regional styles. He is associated with the nirgun stream of devotional religion in northern India. A disciple of the Hindu guru Ramanand, Kabir often sang of inner experience using language of the subtle yogic body. Yet Kabir cannot be classified as Hindu, Muslim, or yogi. Fiercely independent, he has become an icon of speaking truth to power.

The Kabir singers' tour of the United States is sponsored by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations, a government agency that sends official cultural delegations abroad.

For more information on the concerts, please call 845-758-7388 or e-mail

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This event was last updated on 11-10-2003