Fire Museum Presents:

Kiranavali Vidyasankar

Carnatic Vocal performance

Friday, February 23rd 8:00 PM
4014 Walnut Street
Free/Donation Requested

Kiranavali Vidyasankar:

By age two, Carnatic vocalist Kiranavli Vidyasankar was hailed as a child prodigy, being able to identify over 200 ragas (melodic scales), demonstrate the 175 talas (rhythmic cycles) and answer numerous other technical questions pertaining to Carnatic music. The Indian Express (June 14, 1975) declared her to be "astounding in her precocity", while The Hindu (June 1976) wrote, “More fantastic is the manner in which 3-year old Kiranavali is able to tell the raga even at the commencement of its outline."

Kiranavali's father, Narasimhan, an outstanding musician and teacher, and son of the renowed Gotuvadyam Narayana Iyengar, saw Kiranavali's potential even as a toddler and started training her in the intricacies of music. Under his watchful guidance, she grew from prodigy to musician with sure-footedness. Her early performances were in tandem with her older brother, K N Shashikiran. As a pair of bright young children, this unique brother-sister duo won much appreciation from connoisseurs, critics and the music-loving public. Both of them branched out as soloists during their teens.

Kiranavali's childhood and youth were replete with fun-filled music sessions and intensity of learning with her older brother, Chitravina Ravikiran. His positive and value-based approach to music and life have deeply influenced her.

In her early teens, Kiranavali had the opportunity of closely following and learning from T Brinda, a great repository of some of the best Carnatic treasures. For nearly a decade, Kiranavali assimilated a sizeable number of compositions of unparalleled quality in Brindamma's repertoire. She immensely values the extraordinary privilege she had in accompanying her guru in several public and private performances as well as radio and television recordings. After Brindamma's demise in 1996, Kiranavali learnt a few pieces from her equally renowned sister, T Mukta, and accompanied her in a hugely successful performance at the Cleveland Tyagaraja Aradhana (Mar 2002).

Around the age of seventeen, Kiranavali discovered her interest in and talent for Chitravina, an ancient South Indian slide instrument her family is famed for, and started pursuing it with great passion. Within a span of two years, she made rapid strides on the instrument that not only allowed her to team up with Ravikiran but also perform solo at many prestigious venues in India such as The Music Academy (Chennai), Krishna Gana Sabha (Chennai) and Sri Shanmukhananda Fine Arts (Mumbai).

The rich musical environment in which she grew up, the thorough training from her illustrious gurus, the many years of hard work and good work ethics, have sharpened Kiranavali's innate talent and keen musical acumen. She is recognized and regarded as a musician with sound scholarship and a distinct voice. Some of her notable works include Lakshmi Prabhavam, a special dance production in which she was a lead singer, and her much acclaimed concert featuring a single piece in 101 and 108 ragas respectively. These performances not only received rave reviews and special mention at sell-out shows, but also established her credentials as a worthy torchbearer of her illustrious music lineage.

Kiranavali's vocal career has taken her to many renowned centers across India, USA, Canada and Europe. They include the National Center for Performing Arts (Mumbai), India International Center (New Delhi), India Habitat Center (New Delhi), Narada Gana Sabha (Chennai), Sri Parthasarathy Swami Sabha (Chennai), Brahma Gana Sabha (Chennai), Karthik Fine Arts (Chennai), The Music Academy (Chennai), Jaya TV's Margazhi Mahotsav, Shanmukhananda Fine Arts (Mumbai), South Indian Cultural Association (Hyderabad), Cleveland Tyagaraja Festival (Ohio), Bharati Kala Manram (Toronto), Ethnological Museum (Hamburg) and Reitberg Museum (Zurich). She has also been featured in prominent television networks such as Doordarshan, Jaya TV, Raj TV and SVBC, besides recording for various radio networks in India and the United States. Kiranavali has lent her voice for documentaries on various great masters including her guru, T Brinda and her legendary grandmother, Vina Dhanammal, and has cut her own CD albums as well.

Fire Museum Presents :

Alan Sondheim/Azure Carter

Bad Jazz

Isolde Touch

Monday, February 20th 8:00 PM
Da Vinci Art Alliance
704 Catherine Street
$7-10 sliding scale

Alan Sondheim & Azure Carter (Providence):

"As Disaster Amnesiac listens to Azure Carter and Alan Sondheim's great new CD, Avatar Woman, I keep reflecting on the concept of American Folk Music and its relevance within our culture, currently and in the past. I am also thinking of Pop, but in a way that juxtaposes the more subtle and accomplished blending of styles and influences of Pop from long ago against the more linear and ridiculous form that Pop has morphed into as time has gone on and people have seemingly stopped caring about anything but the most easily comprehended bites.

It strikes this listener that Avatar Woman is a very subtle and beautiful blending of those two elements (among many others, of course). The more overtly Pop feel of the music comes from the clearly intoned alto vocals of Azure Carter. Disaster Amnesiac hears many different influencers within her fantastic delivery: Billie Holiday, Anita O'Day, and Ella Fitzgerald, from that Golden Age of Female Vocalizing, all seem to emerge from her singing. I hear the American Pop reflections of Harry Partch and the Beats from her lyrics, ones that describe and detail the observances of the smaller, but often so much more poignant, aspects of our lives as we live them. In the perfect utopian visionary state that exists in the mind of Disaster Amnesiac, Carter would be as big a figure in the Pop vocal landscape (and the ones of Jazz and Rock, for that matter). Her incantations are mesmerizing in their subtle simplicity, so much more powerful, in their restraint, than those of whichever divas are currently being foisted upon the American public by the Big Money Music Machines of New York and Hollywood. Avatar Woman's Folk element comes not only from Carter's "humble" vision, but also from the Alan Sondheim's artful expression on any number of stringed instruments from all over the globe. He coaxes micro-tones from violin, dan moi, suraz, sarangi, electric guitar, oud, etc. The listener is treated to his subtle backing of Carter's vocals; if one chooses to focus deeper into his playing while the singing is happening, one hears his freaked out aspect. That is to say, the man has such control, he essentially sounds as he is playing completely Free (as in Jazz), even while being an accompanist. Of course, he gets plenty of time to wail and solo, and when those spaces are approached, just be prepared to listen to universes growing and collapsing within their sound worlds. Saxophonists Christopher Diasparra and Edward Schneider give earthy, inward, and rooted contributions to several tunes. The entire ensemble sound is one of controlled, focused torsion; the sounds are close, warm, intimate, even at their furthest ranges. Their control is the control of Folk musicians, working within their own worlds and owning them.

Avatar Woman is fine example of the kind of subtle blends that can so easily happen in America, if only its citizenry cared about such things en masse. Come on, my fellow country men and women, let your Freak Flags fly again!" - Mark Pinto/Disaster Amnesiac

Bad Jazz (San Francisco):

Formed in late 2014, experimental improvisation trio, Bad Jazz, has been taking audiences on improvised auditory journeys that defy the normal explanations of musical theory. Their music is a stream of consciousness, ebbing and flowing from one texture to the next. Although the personnel of the group is variable, key members include Bryan Day, Tania Chen and Ben Salomon. The three met in San Francisco, California but come from a diverse geographic background. Tania is from London, England, Bryan hails from Omaha, Nebraska and Ben originates from Littleton, New Hampshire. Many of the noises emanating from the group come from hand made instruments designed and built by the performers. Other sounds are more traditional, such as piano, random percussion and analog synthesizers. No sound discrimination allowed, whether loud, soft, scratchy or melodic. The only rule is that there are no rules. This makes for new and fresh performances with performance. Bad Jazz's second release, Tincture, is available on Oakland's Friends and Relatives records.

Isolde Touch (Philadelphia):

"The music Asha Sheshadri makes as Isolde Touch is boldly literal. Perhaps literal is inexact; concrete is closer, as her sounds have a clarity that ties them directly to their origins (a piano is exactly a piano). Conceptually she deals in abstraction, but sonically she’s unafraid to let her sources shine through like light beams where they could easily be buried in fog... This is organized music whose physical effects come with a creative agenda, even if that agenda can be interpreted in many ways."


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