Veena Notes

The new normal

posted Nov 10, 2020, 11:54 AM by Nirmala Rajasekar   [ updated Nov 10, 2020, 12:27 PM ]

Greetings! 2020 has been quite the year for all of us - a year to remember and reflect. Travelling to the US on Feb 29 2020,  after being away on tour for 4 months, I would have never imagined that very soon a lot was going to change in a big way! The COVID-19 crisis came upon us all in a manner nobody expected. As I write this, I am fervently hoping and praying that there will soon be a vaccine that will be available to combat this virus. That the 'new normal' was social distancing and that we had to survive this virus by somewhat being in isolation, was a reality check that was stunning. Humankind is not made for quarantines - we thrive on being together! Performing artists were hit hard -with performing venues and concert halls being closed for the time being. 

Thankfully, human spirit is what keeps us going in such moments. The support of my dear Naadharasa nonprofit Board came in strongly to do what we needed to do. Along with GCMA (Global Carnatic Musicians Association and ACF (the American Composers Forum where I have begun serving as Co-Chair on the Board of Directors since July), Naadharasa and I were involved in helping artists, instrument makers/repair shops and communities in need. This work which began in April 2020 has been continuing as I write this in November. My eternal gratitude to all the generous people from all over the globe who have stood by Naadharasa, GCMA and ACF. It has been a privilege to perform many concerts online for organizations such as Indian Music Society of MN ( in its fundraising support of the India Association of Minnesota's ( relief efforts. 

It has been a time of great change in the world around us in many ways - from addressing inequities in our society to providing assistance and financial relief to those in need. Please take care, everyone. Though this not over yet, we know we can combat this together. May the upcoming holiday season beginning with Diwali this weekend, be a special time to cherish each other!
Love and Peace!

Greetings from Chennai- Happy 2020

posted Jan 17, 2020, 11:07 PM by Nirmala Rajasekar   [ updated Jan 17, 2020, 11:10 PM ]

Dear Friends, 
Warm welcome to 2020 and to my website! Its been a wonderful Season 2019 and already 17 days have passed in a blur in the New Year. A Season filled with exciting new forays, new venues, new combinations and the favorite spaces revisited. Participating in the 173rd Thyagaraja Aradhana was a highlight this past week and now looking forward to visiting and performing in the the Mangalore area...Karkala, Manipal and Udupi followed by the inaugural concert of AKP Fine Arts to end January. Febrary begins with a special concert in Delhi followed by a lecture demonstration in Bangalore..Seeking Her Blessings and all your support.
May this year be filled with the best of everything for you all. Take care!

September 2019

posted Sep 29, 2019, 8:11 AM by Nirmala Rajasekar   [ updated Sep 29, 2019, 8:13 AM ]

An exciting last few months one reason being the ascending of the sacred space of performance by Kum Samyukhtha Shankar who presented a vocal concert on Aug 18th 2019 in Chennai's Pethachi auditorium. She was blessed to have done so in the presence of many Mahavidwans and connoisseur in the audience including Chitraveena Shri Narasimhan, Nagai Shri Muralidharan and Cleveland Shri Sundaram. She had the good fortune to have the support of veteran vidwans Shri VVS Murari, Thanjavur Shri Murugaboothi and Ghatam Shri Karthick. After this concert, she came home to Maple Grove, Minnesota and sang another concert at the Nath Auditorium of the Hindu Society on September 2nd. As I reflect on my journey as a teacher on this lovely occasion, my gratitude to my parents and Gurus is  foremost on my mind. All their gifts are what I am enjoying now with the Naadharasa Center for Music.
My own performance travels are taking me to various interesting experiences around the state and the country in the next few months As I leave for a bit of north Minnesota this next week coinciding with the wonderful Navarathri week,  I will also go a bit easward to Syracuse University and then down south to Bentonville, Arkansas for performances before returning to homebase for a few more weeks of singing, playing and teaching before packing my bags for the  next round of travels outside the country.
Celebrate the Arts this special Holiday season. Love and Peace- Nirmala

July 2019

posted Jul 3, 2019, 9:37 AM by Nirmala Rajasekar

'Veena Gaanam 2019' at the Cleveland Aradhana on April 22 2019 was an extraordinary event. For the first time in 43 years of the Aradhana such a concert featuring the veena with vocal was presented. As our team of 72 people from 9 states of the USA took to the stage to perform an hour of veena/vocal/mridangam music, our Gurus' Grace was felt. The nearly 30 veenas  on stage stayed in shruthi for that one hour (a miracle in itself) and the performers sang and played their hearts out. Our deep gratitude to Shri VV Sundaram Mama for this great concept and for encouraging me to create this concert. Many thanks to Vidwans Shri Thanjavur Murugaboopathi Anna and Shri V.Srinivasan for working with our young mridangam players. Our gratitude goes out to all the eminent artists who came at 8 am that morning to bless the performers. The year is moving fast with residencies (8 of them) and concerts in Dhvani Columbus, Indian Fine Arts Academy San Diego, Cleveland Aradhana,  ' Summer Rain '  with Zeitgeist and performing in a special 1000 moon celebration event with Shruthi  Rajasekar for the legendary Spider John Koerner at the world renowned Cedar Cultural Center. Looking ahead to travelling to India for concerts and a special event there. I will post more after I am back.Take care and have a wonderful summer everyone! Thank you for visiting!

Oct 2018 'Maithree the Music of Friendship'

posted Oct 20, 2018, 8:52 PM by Nirmala Rajasekar

A week away from the D-Day the launch of our new album 'Maithree the Music of Friendship'. Exciting times ahead. A dream now closer to reality. 
We invite you all to join us on Oct 28th 2018 at the wonderful world music venue the Cedar Cultural Center in Minneapolis at 3 pm for the release concert. My 'Maithrees'  Vidwan and Vidushis Thanjavur Muugaboopathi,  Michelle Kinney , Pat O Keefe and Tim O' Keefe will be performing with yours truly on that day. I am most grateful to Innova recordings for their faith in me and helping launch this album under their label, for Wild Sound Studios and Steve Kaul, for recording editing and mastering the album, Gary Hines (3 time Grammy winning group Sounds Of Blackness') Shruthi Rajasekar (composer-musician)  V.Srinivasan (musician) for their time in the studio as studio producers and several other friends for helping in so many capacities. It has been a journey of love, camaraderie and friendship and I thank my wonderful partners for their trust and support. The digital global release two days before the concert on Oct 26 2018. Hope you will all get a copy of the album. Let us know what you think.    
Happy Dasshera! 

April 2018

posted Apr 9, 2018, 7:04 AM by Nirmala Rajasekar   [ updated Oct 20, 2018, 8:40 PM ]

Greetings! Thanks for the gentle nudge dear friend-that the blog needs updating :) yes its been way too long since the last post. A lot of happenings on the musical and personal front - leaves one wondering about life and the myriad possibilities of the unexpected. Much to be grateful for but a lot to contemplate about too- Raj Neeraj and I are happy that By His Grace Shruthi Rajasekar has been chosen as a Marshall Scholar to pursue her Masters education in England. Remembering my Guru Shri Seetharama Sarma who we lost on December 10th most unexpectedly. Shruthi had a unique opportunity to study with him in the summer of 2014. His magnificent teaching and rendition of the Thodi swarajathi will always be remembered. I was very fortunate to be part of his and Mami's Sadhabhishekam function in September in Chennai. May his Blessings be upon all of us always.
Thanks to New Zealand Rasikas and the dynamic Priya and Gopal Srinivasan for bringing me and the grand lady to Auckland and Wellington in August for double header concerts teaming up with Vidwan Kunnakudi Balamurali Krishna and a splendid group of artists Vidwans BU GaneshPrasad, Thanjavur Murugaboopathi and Shree Sundarkumar- The tour proceeded to Australia and Singapore -thanks to Shri Sridhar Chari , Smt.Susmita Ravi , Smt.Shanthinie Raveendran, Smt. Yaso Ponnudurai,  Shri V.Shankaranarayanan and SIFAS. Being able to perform at the Veena Festival and Navarathri Cutcheris in Chennai at many venues including the Sharadha Sringeri Peetam T Nagar and Arkay Convention Center was a wonderful experience. October and November saw yours truly having a concert tour of the USA with performances in the Charleston Music Hall, IFSAAD San Diego, SIFA CA, ICC Rochester, Lawrence University WI, Richmond Rasikas, Hindu Temple MN, Hindu Temple Ft.Lauderdale, SIMA Los Angeles, Veda Temple Seattle, Hindu Temple Portland, CMAI Indianapolis, with the wonderful team of Vidwans Shri VVS Murari, Shri Thanjavur Murugaboopathi, Shri KV Gopalakrishnan, Shri Ravi Balasubramanyam, Shri Ganesh Ramnarayanan. Last week in November was the beginning of the season concerts for the year in Chennai beginning with a concert for Gandharva Gana Sabha in Amabattur  followed by Bharathiyar day festivites at the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan and the season itself :) After wrapping up with a concert on Feb 4 for Sri Krishna Sweets at Saroj Natraj auditorium in Coimbatore 'Veenai Vithagam' a concert of Tamil songs with veteran artists Shri BV Raghavendra Rao Shri Thanjavur Murugaboopathi and Shri Ganesh Rao, I was back in the US for the next round of activities. March brought us to Schubert Club for the Courtroom Concerts, St.Cloud for the Folks and Traditional Arts grant and the Carnatic Symphony with the brilliant Vidwan KN Shashikiran and a concert that opened with athe wonderful Behaag varnam of my dear Guru Sri TR Subramanyam taught to me by dear Guru Kalpakam swaminathan at the Cleveland Aradhana. On another 'track' work is proceeding at a good clip for our new CD 'Maithree the music of Friendship' at Wild Sound Studios with the master sound engineer Steve Kaul getting ready for an October release. The preview concert of the Maithree team is on April 27 at InnFest at the Zeitgeist studios. Please do check the upcoming events tab to join me whenever possible!
Stay healthy Stay Happy

June 2017

posted Jun 19, 2017, 4:27 PM by Nirmala Rajasekar

Already into more than half of year 2017 and I am again amazed by how the time has flown and what a fulfilling first half it has been both on the personal and professional front!  The album 'Maithree -the Music of Friendship'  is moving forward towards the final stages of mixing and mastering.  Naadharasa students worked hard to learn 10 new compositions and perform in the 250th celebrations of the great saint composer Sri Thyagaraja as part of the Carnatic Symphony team in Cleveland OH. Shruthi's conducting of the orchestra and later on singing 'Ave Maria' as a special dedication for Easter Sunday was indeed a wonderful treat. Looking ahead to the upcoming visit to India and tours to Australia, New Zealand and the USA August through November- Do join us if possible. With His Blessings and good wishes it will go well- Until the next time take care- Nirmala 

November 2016

posted Nov 29, 2016, 2:01 PM by Nirmala Rajasekar

Hello everyone, Hope you have all had a good 2016. Thanksgiving has just passed- I have much to be thankful for! Outside the rain falls on the grass and the air gets colder reminding me of winter in Minnesota and my upcoming journey to warmer climes. This year has seen so much already -with 'Maithree'   my new CD getting more shape and form at Wild Sound Studios with the addition of friends of the veena -  mridangam, ghatam, cello, clarinet, saxaphone, oud, guitar,djembe, bongos and more. Being part of friend Siama Matuzungidi's 'Rivers' and then getting to create my first album of collaboration 'Maithree -the Music of Friendship ' in early summer; travelling to Chennai to perform at Thanjavur Upendran Mama's Remembrance day event; visiting Chidambaram and fulfilling a lifelong dream of visiting the Cosmic Dancer Natraja in His Special Abode there, teaching at the haloed campus of the Tamil Nadu Fine arts University where my own gurus had served for many years (my Gratitude to Vice Chancellor Smt.E.Gayathri); performing in Mysore after many years in two special concerts with wonderful co-artists, celebrating Sri Raghavendra Swamy Aradhana in Chennai and Hanumanthapuram again in the company of fantastic co-artists, having an special concert at  Sacred Seven Hills Tirumala Nada Neerajanam supported by another team of top notch performers ; Returning to the US and presenting 'Song of Wonder' with collaborator David Harris at two special concerts including at the historic Sheldon Theater Red Wing; a special concert with Vidwan Thanjavur Murugaboopathi and Vidwan Ghatam Karthick at Winona State University and University of Wisconsin River Falls; presenting another avatar of Maithree at Stevens Point Wisconsin for the festival of India annual event. It has been a busy and fulfilling year and I look ahead to spending December and January in India performing at the Winter music Festival there taking in the sights and sounds of it all with my daughter Shruthi (who will join me from England) along with my parents,sister and family. I look forward to seeing many of you on this leg of the trip and wish you all a wonderful healthy joyful Holiday Season ahead! Take care!

April 2016

posted Apr 12, 2016, 1:11 PM by Nirmala Rajasekar   [ updated Apr 12, 2016, 1:14 PM ]

Thank you to all of you for your love and affection , for letting me know that you are with me on my journey via this blog. December , January and the first 10 days in February were spent in Chennai--It been been quite the experience. I never expected to be part of the relief efforts in such an involved manner. I believe my being in Chennai for this duration was definitely for many other reasons in addition to participating in the Season -personal and professional. Once again I am grateful to Him. Back in the USA the year has begun with a short tour and concerts at the Laurie Porter concert series in Carleton College Northfield MN, Otterbein University and Dhvani Columbus Ohio and the Hindu Temple in Dayton Ohio with the the wonderful team of Shri VVS Murari, Shri Thanjavur Murugaboopathi and Shri Ravi Balasubramanyam in February and early march. Song of Wonder (with David Harris, Boopathi Anna, young Naadha Rasa performers Sowmya Murthy and Priya and the Voices of Sepharad ensemble) continued its run with performances at Concordia Moorhead University and the Rochester Civic Theater-- Come November this show will be presented at the historic Sheldon Theater in Red Wing MN. March end took me to this years Aradhana at Cleveland State University. I never cease to wonder at the energy of the amazing people who have put their hearts and passions into running this awesome 10 day event year after year.. now for 39 years. It was an honor to perform as part of this event in the company of esteemed artists Shri Raghavendra Rao, Thanjavur Murugaboopathi and Shri Guruprasad in the presence of some of the finest practitioners and followers of this glorious art. Princeton University's Swara inaugurated its performing season with the a Jugal Bandhi concert with Pandit Ronu  Majumdar on the bansuri and yours truly on the veena with Vidwan Thanjavur Murugaboopathi and Shri Samir Chatterjee. It was wonderful evening resonating with sounds of the beautiful Indian instruments in the haloed campus of this great University- Happy to be part of this...Arriving back in Minneapolis thanks to planes and delays went straight from the airport to the gorgeous Basilica of St.Mary the venue of MCTC's Spirit and Soul event. What a gratifying feeling to be in the Church built inn 1871 where the entire atmosphere is reminiscent of ancient times. Coming up in April and May performances in Dallas TX, Green Bay WI and (Maithree a new collaboration) SV Temple Edina MN, a new album in the making....Stay tuned!  Stay healthy!  Stay happy! Take care

December 2015 ..with love from Namma Singara Chennai

posted Dec 10, 2015, 7:35 AM by Nirmala Rajasekar   [ updated Apr 12, 2016, 12:43 PM ]

8 months since the last time I wrote here. First time for many things..First time reporting from Chennai First experience of a deluge here in the city of my birth. -- in awe at Nature and her immense capacity to bring the unexpected..
Rewinding back to summer 2015..Intense workshops, travel to India for the national program of music and Sangeet Samraat in Bangalore and Chennai..into Fall 2015 .Sounds of the Ancient tour with the wonderful Bansuri wizard Pandit RonuMajumdar with Mridangam master Shri Thanjavur Murugaboopathi and Shri Ajeet Pathak from Bombay on Tabla. A lovely experience. Thank you hosting organizations' hosts and the wonderful artists who were with me ...all brought together for my first tour with Minnesota's own Layyasaaram Institute for the Arts. Sangeet Samraat in Minnesota, Song of Wonder MSAB Arts Tour with David Harris and Voices of Sepherad in St.Peter and Northfield, Summer Rain with Zeitgeist in Grand Marais and Duluth..November also saw Sublime Journey sitar/veena concert  to Bahrain and Carnatica's Bharat Sangeet Utsav in Coimbatore, a solo in Dubai. Beginning the season with Parivaadhini and LayaMadhura..before the deluge descended in a big way..Humbling experience being involved in relief efforts in Chennai..Hailing the Spirit of the artist and organizations who are continuing with the music Season with a few schedule adjustments. feeling blessed to have music be part of my life. Chennaites prayers for you all ---Take care !!!

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