House Concert Features Improvisation of Carnatic Music With Top Indian Artists

House Concert Features Improvisation of Carnatic Music With Top Indian Artists
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Join the Honors College for an exploration into the rāgas of Carnatic music with Sri Vittal Ramamurthy--internationally-celebrated violinist--and Grammy-nominated Sri Poovalur Sriji--percussionist, composer and performer--at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 13, in Gearhart Hall 130 as part of the Honors College House Concert series.

The concert is free, open to all and will be followed by a reception. Please RSVP here and come early to reserve a seat. Parking will be available in the Harmon Avenue Parking Garage.

"Founding dean of the Honors College, Bob McMath, created the House Concert series to produce a space for community and artists to come together in celebration of the performing arts," said Lynda Coon, dean of the Honors College. "Professor of Music Nikola Radan's expertise in global music adds new dimensions to this storied series, delivering an exciting journey into the music of India." 

Carnatic music is a form of classical South Indian music that balances both devotion and creative self-expression by drawing inspiration from sacred texts.

Sri Poovalur Sriji
Vittal Ramamurthy

While a large portion of Carnatic music is composed, Ramamurthy and Sriji will treat the audience to manodharma sangita - imaginative music, as most of their performance will be improvised on the spot. Sriji will lead vocals with solkattus, spoken rhythm, and Ramamurthy will guide the melodies by accompanying the vocals with strings.  

"It's a dialogue between the violin and the vocals," Ramamurthy shared. "I don't know what [Sriji] is going to sing, and he doesn't know what I will play." 

Although the music system is universal, "the handling of Carnatic music is different," Ramamurthy said. He encourages those interested in world music to attend and learn more about complementing traditional composition with creative latitude. 

"We are honored to host two of the top Carnatic music artists: Sri Vittal on violin and Sri Poovalur on mardagam," said Nikola Radan, director of the World Music Ensemble and music instructor. "Carnatic music is the mother and the root of all music in India. It is considered to be one of the most complex music styles in the world with compound rhythmical patterns. Thank you to the Honors College, Department of Music and the RA-VE Cultural Foundation to make this concert possible." 


Ramamurthy, an internationally acclaimed violinist and top-ranking artist at All India Radio, is the torchbearer and leading disciple of the Lalgudi bani, a distinctive style of music in which the violin is "made to sing" and mimic the human voice. Ramamurthy describes himself as a "solo performer, accompanist, teacher and humble student of the arts." He has students worldwide, many of whom are leading performers. To give back to the community he grew up in, he conducts a free summer camp in his native house Karunbithil, where he teaches more than 250 students Carnatic music in the style of Gurukulam, an education system where students live with their guru. 


Sriji is a prolific composer, performer, educator and an "A Top" grade artist at All India Radio - the highest ranking given by the Indian government. His love and expertise in Indian Classical music are inspired by his father. Many of his compositions celebrate South Indian idioms, and for decades, he has performed with leading artists from across the world. He accompanied American banjo player Béla Fleck, Hindustani classical instrumentalist Vishwa Mohan Bhatt and Chinese fiddle player Jiebing Chen on their collaborative album "Tabula Rasa," which was nominated for a Grammy Award in 1997. He is currently an adjunct instructor of percussion at the University of North Texas and director of the South Indian Cross-Cultural Ensemble. 

About the Honors College: The University of Arkansas Honors College was established in 2002 and brings together high-achieving undergraduate students and the university's top professors to share transformative learning experiences. Each year the Honors College awards up to 90 freshman fellowships that provide $80,000 over four years, and more than $1 million in undergraduate research and study abroad grants. The Honors College is nationally recognized for the high caliber of students it admits and graduates. Honors students enjoy small, in-depth classes, and programs are offered in all disciplines, tailored to students' academic interests, with interdisciplinary collaborations encouraged. All Honors College graduates have engaged in mentored research.

About the University of Arkansas: As Arkansas' flagship institution, the U of A provides an internationally competitive education in more than 200 academic programs. Founded in 1871, the U of A contributes more than $2.2 billion to Arkansas' economy through the teaching of new knowledge and skills, entrepreneurship and job development, discovery through research and creative activity while also providing training for professional disciplines. The Carnegie Foundation classifies the U of A among the few U.S. colleges and universities with the highest level of research activity. U.S. News & World Report ranks the U of A among the top public universities in the nation. See how the U of A works to build a better world at Arkansas Research and Economic Development News.



Shelby Gill, Director of Communications
Honors College


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