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Center for World Performance Studies Showcases Legendary South Indian Percussionists

By Ingrid Racine

The new Stamps Gallery is located first floor of the McKinley Towne Center at 201 S. Division St. in downtown Ann Arbor.

On Thursday, April 13, 2017 at 8pm, the University of Michigan Center for World Performance Studies (CWPS) will host a public performance “Maha-Laya: A Rhythmical Rhapsody​” featuring two of the best known percussionists in Indian carnatic music, T H Subash Chandran​ and his former student Ganesh Kumar​. The five-piece ensemble will conclude a three day residency at the University of Michigan with this free concert at Rackham Auditorium, in which they will invite guests from the U-M Department of Jazz & Contemporary Improvisation to partake in a transcultural collaborative performance.

Master percussionist Sri T H Subash Chandran, from Chennai, South India, is a multi percussionist, performing on Mridangam (Barrel Shaped Drum), Ghatam (Claypot), Kanjira (South Indian Frame Drum), Morsingh (Jaw Harp) and Konnakkol (Vocal Percussion). Subash was a faculty of the California Institute of the Arts from 1976-1977, and is the professor emeritus at the Sankara Institute of Percussive Arts and Music, New Jersey. Sri T H Subash Chandran has developed international repute through his spellbinding performances at the United Nations, across the US and Europe, and with philharmonics such including, NY Philharmonic, Norwegian Philharmonic, USSR Philharmonic and Oslo Philharmonic with renowned violinist Dr L Subramaniam.

Ganesh Kumar, the “kanjira wizard,” is responsible for popularising this instrument in USA, Europe and other countries, through his virtuosic performances and dedication to education. He released the first ever instructional DVD for kanjira titled “The Art of Kanjira,” which is used by many frame drummers and percussionists all over the world get to know about this instrument and performing techniques. Ganesh Kumar is well adept at fostering cross-cultural collaborations, having performed globally with many Indian legends and jazz greats including Bela Fleck, Paul Horn, John Wubbenhorst, Max Roach, Victor Wooten, Fareed Haque and others. In 2000, he became the first south Indian percussionist to receive a Fulbright Fellowship award, given by the United States Department of State.

T H Subash Chandran and Ganesh Kumar will perform with S Hari Krishnan, keyboard; K Sivaraman,violin; and Rajaraman, thavil. The ensemble will be joined by members of the U-M Department of Jazz & Contemporary Improvisation for several numbers, including Professors Ed Sarath, flugelhorn, and Michael Gould, percussion.

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