“I find nothing more inspiring than the music making of my very great colleague Subramaniam. Each time I listen to him, I am carried away in wonderment,” said Lord Yehudi Menuhin.
“In the West, I have heard only one other music which is as meditative, serene, powerful and yet equally joyful – that of Johann Sebastian Bach” says a leading critic of Subramaniam.
Subramaniam, India’s violin icon, “The Paganini of Indian Classical music”, “the God of Indian Violin” is the serenity of an Indian musician combined with the magnetism of a western “star”. Constantly propelled from Singapore to Paris, from Delhi to Los Angeles, he has conquered every audience with the elegance and virtuosity of his style. His career as a childhood prodigy brought him into contact with the greatest musicians and he soon imposed himself as a master of the violin. At a very young age, he was honored with the title “Violin Chakravarthy” (emperor of the violin). No other musician can boast of such diverse repertoire and collaborations, or even such mind-boggling techniques. Till date, Dr. Subramaniam has produced, performed, collaborated, conducted and close to two hundred recordings.
Dr. L. Subramaniam is the only musician who has performed/recorded Karnatic Classical Music, Western Classical Music, both Orchestral and non-Orchestral, and also composed for and conducted major Orchestras, scored for films, collaborated with a wide range of some of the greatest musicians, from different genres of music including jazz, occidental, jugalbandis with internationally renowned musicians, world music and global fusion. He has established himself as a force that is strongly Indian, but universal in nature and approach.
Passionate about music, Subramaniam was also dedicated to Science. He studied medicine, finishing his M.B.B.S at Madras Medical College and registered as a General Practitioner. Subsequently he did his Master’s Degree in Western Classical Music in California and he finally decided to dedicate his life to music.
Attracted by his unusual musical phrasing, several western musicians wanted to play with him. He willingly lent himself to these exchanges, which represented for him a no-man’s land, which allowed him to explore the field of improvisation. Since 1973, Subramaniam has made historic collaborations and recordings with people like Yehudi Menuhin, Stephane Grappelli, Jean-Pierre Rampal, Steven Seagal, Ruggiero Ricci, Arve Tellefsen, Herbie Hancock, Joe Sample, Stanley Clarke, George Duke, Al Jarreau, Jean Luc Ponty, Earl Klugh, Larry Coryell, Corky Siegel, Tony Williams, Billy Cobham, John Surman,Maynard Ferguson and Ravi Coltrane.
Today, he is the founder/director of the Lakshminarayana Global Music Festival, the biggest global music festival in India, in which this spirit of encounter, which he has always enjoyed, is strongly expressed. The Festival has brought some of the greatest artists from around the globe together on one stage. It is held annually, primarily in India, but has also been held in different parts of the world.
Not only is he the most outstanding Indian Classical Violinist, but also an exceptional composer who has established himself as the foremost Indian composer in the realm of orchestral composition. In 1983, he crossed other frontiers, that of western classical tradition. “The Double Concerto for violin and flute” combines western scales and micro intervals. “Spring – Rhapsody” is a homage to Bach and Baroque music. Over the years he has written and created works for the world’s greatest orchestras The New York Philharmonic Orchestra and Zubin Mehta (“Fantasy on Vedic Chants”), the Swiss Romande Orchestra (“Turbulence”); The Kirov Ballet (“Shanti Priya”) The Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra (“The Concerto for Two Violins”); The Berlin Opera (Global Symphony), the live concert of which was broadcast simultaneously over 28 nations for millions of people. His latest orchestral composition is entitled ‘Astral Symphony’ for full symphony orchestra and soloists from different musical traditions, once again emphasizing the concept of Global Fusion.
He has received several awards and honours, including the coveted Padma Bhushan and Sangeet Natak Akademi Award for “The Most Creative Artist” from the President of India. He has been awarded the “Nada Chakravarti” (Emperor of Sound) from H.H Sri Ganapati Sachchidananda Swami-ji. In recognition of his contribution to the World of Music, he has received six honourary doctorates.
Undoubtedly one of the favourites of the critics and the masses, Kavita’s singing career reads like a fairy tale. Her exquisite and mellifluous voice, wide range and, versatility to sing different styles and types of songs has put her in a unique place amongst singers and she has been quoted as a “melody queen” by leading critics and connoisseurs alike.
Born in Delhi, she began her vocal training under Sri Balram Puri, (in the Hindustani style of music) at a very young age. Her incredible talent was evident by age eight when she won her first gold medal at a Music Competition. She also won gold medals both years she participated in the Inter-Ministry Classical Competition in the mid 60s in New Delhi. Kavita enrolled at St. Xavier’s College, Bombay where she obtained an Honours Degree in Economics. While in college, she started singing professionally on stage with the great music director and singer Hemant Kumar, Mukesh and Manna Dey. She began her recording career in 1971. Her first recording for a Bengali film song was a duet with Lata Mangeshkar. “Maang Bharo Sajna” was her first Hindi film under Sri Laxmikant Pyarelal followed by “Pyar Jhukta Nahin”. Since then, she has sung for many more films like Mr. India, Karma, Saudagar, Khuda Gawah, Chaalbaaz, 1942 – A Love Story, Yaarana, Mohara, Bombay, Saaz, Khamoshi, Pardesh, Bhairavi, Agnisakshi, Prem Agan, Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, Bade Miyan Chhote Miyan, Wajood, Hum Dil de Chuke Sanam, Taal, Hum Saath Saath Hain, Vaastav, Khoobsurat, Gaja Gamini, Pukar, Dil Chahta Hai, Devdas, Dil Vil Pyar Vyar, Jeena Sirf Tere Liye, The Rising, etc. Many of her songs have gone platinum.
Kavita’s exemplary voice has taken her all around the world, including to the US, UK, Europe, Africa, Australia, Far East, Middle East, South America. She has performed in some of the most prestigious venues of the world including the Royal Albert Hall, London, The Kennedy Centre, Washington D.C., Madison Square Gardens, The Lincoln Centre, New York, the Zhongshan Music Hall, Beijing and The Esplanade, Singapore Putra Jaya World Trade Centre, Kuala Lumpur, among others. Having performed in every inhabited continent, there is very little left of the world for Kavita to conquer with her voice. Kavita has performed in every nook and corner of India from Punjab to Kanyakumari and Bengal to Gujarat and the Andaman Islands. She has performed in the largest concert halls and stadiums as well as in remote places for the common man. Her voice has reached millions of people touching their hearts as she has sung in almost all the Indian languages including Marathi, Gujarati, Punjabi, Bengali, Oriya, Assamese, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada, Bhojpuri, Jharkhandi, Rajasthani and Konkani. She has also sung for several Nepalese and Bangladeshi films. Kavita has also sung in English and recorded with the famous Hollywood star Steven Seagal.
Although primarily a playback singer, Kavita has not allowed herself to be limited. She has sung with orchestras as a soloist, she has collaborated with Western artists from the Jazz, Popular and Classical fields. She has sung ghazals and devotionals. She has even sung Indi-Pop. Her classical jugalbandhi concert with Pandit Jasraj and Dr. L. Subramaniam has been released both audio and DVD by Music Today.
Following her wedding to Dr L Subramaniam, Kavita has explored and expanded her artistic range to areas which have never been explored by singers before. She was the main featured soloist in the “Global Fusion” album released by Warner Bros., featuring musicians from all the five continents. Kavita has sung as a soloist with orchestras like the Beijing Symphony Orchestra, Leipzig Philharmonic and London Symphony Orchestra. Kavita Krishnamurti Subramaniam is one artist who has managed to prove herself in every musical field which she has chosen to enter, and has enthralled and dazzled audiences from around the world with her stage performances, recordings and playback singing for the past thirty years… singing more than 15,000 songs.
“Haunting‟ and “Hypnotic‟ are the two words most commonly used to describe Bindu Subramaniam‟s voice. Having been dubbed a “third-generation prodigy‟ by the press, Bindu wrote her first song at seven and has been performing since age twelve. She has created a very original sound fusing soft rock and jazz elements with traditional Indian music. Her training in Indian and western styles of music have given her a unique sound. As a songwriter and composer, Bindu Subramaniam has received Honourable Mentions at the 16th Annual Billboard World Song Contest (2009), the 17th Annual Billboard World Song Contest (2010) and was a Top 20 Finalist (Performance) at the 12th Annual Unisong International Song Contest (2009). Bindu is the only Indian artist to receive this accolade.
Bindu has toured extensively, performing with her family (parents Dr. L. Subramaniam and Kavita Krishnamurti Subramaniam and brother Ambi Subramaniam), her band, and as a soloist with symphony orchestras.
Her debut solo album, entitled “Surrender‟ was released in 2011 on Times Music and was nominated for a GiMA in the Best Pop/Rock Album category. In January 2012, Bindu was named by Verve magazine as one of 12 Gen Next Achievers.
In 2014, she launched a band called SubraMania with her brother Ambi SubraMania has performed across India, Europe and the US to great critical acclaim, and their first single “Days in the Sun‟ going viral, followed by releases “Esperanza”, “7song” and “Peacock”.
Bindu also has a master’s degree in law, a master’s certificate in songwriting and music business from Berklee, and an MPhil in Cultural Studies in Music.
She currently serves as the Dean of the Subramaniam Academy of Performing Arts in Bangalore, heads the SaPa in Schools program which provides music education to over 10,000 students in India and has co-written (with Dr. L. Subramaniam) the SaPa Baby series of music books.
Ambi Subramaniam gave his first performance at the age of seven and since then has performed in many prestigious venues across the world. He has received the Ritz Icon of the Year Award, the Rotary Youth Award, two GiMAs (Global Indian Music Award for Best Fusion Album and Best Carnatic Instrumental Album) and Big Indian Music Award (for Best Carnatic Album).
Hailed as "the new king of Indian classical violin" (The Times of India), Ambi regularly plays duet violin concerts with his father and guru, Dr. L. Subramaniam, as well as solo concerts. He has performed at the prestigious Dussehra Festival at the Mysore Palace, the Menuhin Festival in Gstaad, the Lincoln Center Out of Doors Festival, the Jay Pritzker Pavillion in Chicago, the Royal Festival Hall in London, the Maximum India Festival at Kennedy, the Royal Opera House, Muscat, and at the Centenary Celebration of the Banglaore Gayana Samaj. Ambi was a featured soloist for the Sounds of India program featuring talented instrumentalists from around the country. Ambi has been invited to perform at TEDx events to expose new audiences to Carnatic music, and at age 13 was invited to present a concert for the then President of India HE APJ Abdul Kalam for the Pravasi Bharitiya Divas. He has performed with Dr. M. Balamuralikrishna, Pandit Hari Prasad Chaurasia and Shankar Mahadevan.
As a fusion performer, he has formed a band called SubraMania with his sister Bindu. Ambi has performed extensively with his family (father Dr. L. Subramaniam, mother Kavita Krishnamurti Subramaniam, sister Bindu Subramaniam) and collaborated with Larry Coryell, Ernie Watts, Corky Siegel and Shankar Mahadevan. Ambi was a featured soloist at the Violins for Peace concert series which featured Mark O' Connor, Loyko and others. He was part of a special performance at the Gateway of India in 2003, featuring violin greats Dr. L. Subramaniam and Jean-Luc Ponty. He also performed at a special open-air millennium concert on New Year’s Eve 1999 for over 200,000 people. Ambi has been a regular performer at the Lakshminarayana Global Music Festival.
As an orchestral soloist, Ambi performed 'Shanti Priya' with the Seattle Symphony in January 2013. He has also performed with the Orchestra Nationale du Lille, Sinfonia Baltica, the Kwazulu Natal Symphony, the Fairfax Symphony Orchestra and the Leipzig Philharmoic Orchestra, to name a few.
Mahesh Krishnamurthy started learning mridangam at the age of 7 under Thattha Mangalam Chandra Sekhar Menon at Palghat, Kerala. He then studied under Shekaripuram Ramakrishnan at Palghat. He continued his mridangam training in Mumbai under the guidance of the eminent Vidhwan Karaikudi Chandramouli, who groomed him to be a concert player for over a decade. Krishnamurthy has received additional training under the mridangam maestro Karaikudi Mani in Chennai.
He has accompanied leading musicians, including Mandolin Srinivas, Pandit Vishwa Mohan Bhatt and Pandit Jasraj, among others. Krishnamurthy is deeply motivated by Dr. L. Subramaniam, who has immensely encouraged him in his endeavors and has been playing with him over the last 2 decades.
"He is one of the greatest living tenor saxophonists, at the top of his game."
Ian Patterson / All About Jazz
Two-time Grammy Award winner Ernie Watts is one of the most versatile and prolific saxophone players in music. It has been more than fifty years since he first picked up a saxophone, and from age sixteen on he has been playing professionally, initially while still attending school. Watts has been featured on over 500 recordings by artists ranging from Cannonball Adderley to Frank Zappa, always exhibiting his unforgettable trademark sound. In 2014, Watts received the prestigious Frankfurt Music Prize given by the city of Frankfurt, Germany. It is presented to both classical and non-classical musicians. Of the 32 current winners, only 6 have been jazz musicians. Per the Frankfurt Music Prize Foundation, Watts was "selected for his strikingly melodic saxophone style and his original tone language, with which he has already enriched several generations of musicians. "Previous jazz honorees include Chick Corea, Paquito D'Rivera, and John McLaughlin. In 2015, Watts was selected as Guest of Honor at the Telluride Jazz Festival in Colorado, and played on the Ernie Watts Main Stage with his own Quartet.