Saturday, June 18th, at 7pm ISSUE Project Room presents the latest in the TONGUES series. Organized by vocalist and composer Amirtha Kidambi, the evening features violist Mat Maneri, as well as a trio performance featuring Carnatic vocalist Ashvin Bhogendra, Carnatic violinist, improviser, and theater artist Anjna Swaminathan, and Mrudangam composer and improviser Rajna Swaminathan. The concert is followed by a discussion on various approaches and philosophies on improvisation with the performers and special guest saxophonist, composer and former ISSUE Artist-In-Residence Matana Roberts.
In collaboration with ISSUE Project Room, TONGUES also presents an educational workshop for future generations of musicians and listeners. These additional activities will focus on the history, text, cultural context and methods for improvising.
TONGUES: A Carnatic Music Primer for Young Musicians @ 3PM
ISSUE Project Room hosts an open workshop for young musicians ages 13-19 led by violinist Anjna Swaminathan and mrudangamist/composer Rajna Swaminathan, introducing basic concepts of Carnatic music to Western Classical and Jazz trained students at 3pm before the performances. The workshop will be a Carnatic Music primer, with a brief introduction to Raga (melodies and scales), Tala (rhythm and time cycles), and Gamaka (ornaments). Participants will need some training in their instrument or voice, knowledge of musical concepts and terminology (in their area of study), and will need to bring their instrument to play. The workshop is open registration and is presented in partnership with youth ensemble Face the Music.
*workshop participants gain free attendance to evening concert
TONGUES brings Indian traditional music outside of cultural enclaves, providing access to a broader audience and musical community. In the series, Indian music provides a unique context for listening to experimental and improvised music, some of which draws influence from the traditions not only sonically and aesthetically, but also in approach and philosophy. A diverse group of performers and traditional Indian musicians are presented side-by-side to inform listening and create enriched understanding, crossing-over both practices. TONGUES started in 2013 at the Silent Barn DIY space in Bushwick, presenting performances by Matana Roberts, Che Chen, Leyna M. Papach, Peter Evans, Dada Tapan Kanti Baidhya, Arun Ramamurthy, Akshay Anantapadmanabhan, and Rajna and Anjna Swaminathan.
Mat Maneri began playing music with his father, Joseph Maneri, when he was only seven. Specializing in various violin derivatives, Mat plays the five-string viola, the electric six-string violin, and the baritone violin. He has worked with the Joe Morris Quartet, recorded numerous albums with his father, and also made guest appearances with Club d'Elf. His solo albums have been released on ECM, Leo Records, and the Swiss label Hat Hut. As the Mat Maneri Trio, he released So What on Hat Hut in 1998. That album featured Mat with Randy Peterson on drums and Matthew Shipp on piano. Another trio album, featuring Mat, Peterson, and Ed Schuller on bass, was released in 1999, entitled Fifty-One Sorrows. Blue Decco followed a year later; Trinity was issued in early 2001. Maneri has also recorded with Cecil Taylor, Matthew Shipp, Joe Morris, Gerald Cleaver, Tim Berne, Borah Bergman, Mark Dresser, William Parker, Michael Formanek, John Lockwood, as well as with his own trio, quartet, and quintet.
Ashvin Bhogendra (D.B. Ashvin) hails from a family of musicians. His maternal grandfather Kalaimamani Late Shri T.K.Rangachary is one of the doyens of Carnatic Music and his paternal great-grandfather Dharmavaram Ramakrishnamacharlu is one of the greatest playwrights of Telugu drama. Ashvin was initiated into carnatic vocal by his mother Smt Mallika Jayanth Kumar at the age of 5. Subsequently he was under the tutelage of B.Seetharama Sharma and Kalaimamani Late Shri Vairamangalam Lakshminarayanan for about 15 years. He is currently undergoing advanced training under Shri D Seshachary (Hyderabad Brothers). Ashvin has given concert performances in leading sabhas and organizations all over India and the USA.
Anjna Swaminathan is a versatile musician and theater artist. A playwright, dramaturg, and theatre scholar with interests in postcolonial thought, gender and queer theories, Hindu spiritual thought, and Indian national identity, Anjna often engages in artistic work that ties together multiple aesthetic forms towards a critical consciousness. Trained in South Indian Carnatic classical and Western classical violin, she is a disciple of late violin maestro Parur Sri M.S. Gopalakrishnan and Mysore Sri H.K. Narasimhamurthy. She frequently takes part in interdisciplinary collaborations, often composing and providing musical accompaniment for several dancers, dance companies and theatre artists, most notably, Ragamala Dance (Minneapolis), The Spilling Ink Project (Washington, D.C.), and Dakshina/Daniel Phoenix Singh Dance Company (Washington, D.C.). In the summer of 2014, Anjna was a participant at the celebrated Banff International Workshop in Jazz and Creative Music.
Rajna Swaminathan is an accomplished artist in the field of South Indian classical percussion – mrudangam. She is a disciple and protégé of maestro Umayalpuram K. Sivaraman. Rajna is one of only a handful of female mrudangam artists in the world. She has performed with several renowned Indian classical musicians and dancers, touring widely in North America and India. As a result of her hybrid upbringing in South Indian and Western musical systems, Rajna has developed a penchant for intercultural and crossover work. In 2012, she received a research grant from the University of Maryland (College Park) to conduct intensive fieldwork in the creative jazz scene in New York, composing and innovating new rhythmic frameworks for the mrudangam and exploring issues of hybrid identity, appropriation, and cross-cultural exchange in improvised music. Rajna has performed in several prestigious venues and festivals including the Smithsonian (D.C.), Kennedy Center (D.C.), Asia Society (New York), Walker Art Center (MN), American Dance Festival (NC) as well as numerous international venues including the Edinburgh Fringe Festival (U.K.). Rajna also regularly gives workshops on the South Indian rhythmic perspective. She is currently pursuing a PhD in music at Harvard University and over the past three years, she has been collaborating and performing with distinguished artists in the New York jazz scene, including pianist Vijay Iyer and saxophonist Steve Coleman.
Amirtha Kidambi is a vocalist, composer and curator invested in the performance and creation of exploratory music. As a soloist, collaborator and ensemble member in groups including the early music influenced dark folk band Seaven Teares, the analog percussion and light ensemble Ashcan Orchestra, and Darius Jones’ vocal quartet Elizabeth-Caroline Unit, Amirtha has performed at Carnegie Hall, Roulette, Issue Project Room, Silent Barn, Whitney Museum, and The Kitchen. As an improviser, she has played with Matana Roberts, Daniel Carter, Darius Jones, Peter Evans, Trevor Dunn, and many innovators in the New York scene. Recent projects and upcoming collaborations include Muhal Richard Abrams’ Dialogue Social, Darius Jones’ The Oversoul Manual at Carnegie Hall, electronic composer Ben Vida’s work Slipping Control with Tyondai Braxton at the Borderline Festival in Athens, Greece, the premiere of the late Robert Ashley’s final opera CRASH at the Whitney Biennial, a commission and recording project with Mary Halvorson’s latest quintet, Lea Bertucci's new vocal work at Issue Project Room, and a commission from the Jerome Foundation for her own quartet Elder Ones at Roulette, followed by a residency at EMPAC to record the group’s debut album. Amirtha is a 2016-2017 Asian Cultural Council Fellow, and will travel to India for intensive study in Carnatic vocal music. Amirtha’s work as a curator is centered on diversity, inclusivity, and anti-racist practices. In addition to the TONGUES series, she has partnered with Matana Roberts and Peter Evans on concerts and panel discussions surrounding issues of police brutality and state violence.