Classical Carnatic Music
Nirmala Rajasekar & The Naadha Rasa Ensemble
Accompanying Artist:Poornima Sathanarayanan, Shruthi Rajasekar, Srividya Ganesh, Sruthi Shankar, Priya Kanajam. Balaji Chandran (on the Gatam), Sriram Natarajan (miridangam & khanjira-depending on song), V. Srinivasan (miridangam and Khanjira
Nirmala Rajasekar is one of the most recognized performers in the world of South Indian Classical (Carnatic) music. She began her training in this art form at age 6 and debuted as a solo performer at age 13 in Bangalore India. She is a disciple of veteran veena Guru octogenarian Prof. Kalapakam Swaminathan and has had vocal mentoring under Prof.Sitarama Sarma and Prof. T. R Subramaniam.
Since then for three decades now she has become one of its best practitioners taking the music of her veena along with her singing to many parts of the world with utmost dedication, passion and a deep love for the art. Nirmala’s music is marked by a repertoire which reflects her adherence to the rich patanthara (lineage and heritage) of her Gurus. She has showcased the two thousand year old tradition of Carnatic music and performed it in traditional and collaborative settings playing and singing alongside other forms of music including western classical music and jazz. Nirmala teaches at the ‘Naadha Rasa Center for Music’ and serves is its artistic director. She serves as an educator on many National and State teaching rosters in the country and abroad.
At the 2009- 2010 Winter music Festival in Chennai, India Nirmala had a unique honor - She won awards from 3 of the top music organizations in Chennai for her concert performances- from Sri Krishna Gana sabha, Narada Gana Sabha and the Music Academy Madras. In 2009 she won awards from the Indian Fine Arts Society and the Rotary Club.
In September 2010 Nirmala performed at International Festival of Music in Turkey at Konya www.mysticmusicfest.com. The press release of the festival states that fact that this was perhaps the first veena concert in that country in 50 years or more.
In May 2010, Nirmala received (from the MacPhail Center for Music) the McKnight Performing Artists Fellowship for the year 2010-2011. She has become the first Indian Musician to be chosen for this Fellowship. Similarly she had won the prestigious Bush Fellowship in 2006 and had become the first Indian musician to be awarded this Fellowship.
Nirmala performed at the second National Conference of Veena at Chicago Illinois as a featured artist in April 2010 where she was honored for her many contributions to the music world.
Albums and recordings
- Nirmala’s creativity and musicianship is seen in recordings by several labels and companies-
- BBC, England ‘Library of world artists – concert on the veena’ 1991.
- Audio Lit. Inc- California, USA ‘Poems of Mirabai’ 1996.
- Shruthilaya Records Chennai, India ‘Melodic Expressions’ 1998.
- Speak Easy Records – Minnesota, USA ‘Words will heal the wound’ 2002.
- Brindavan Audio Chennai India ‘Strings in Unison’ 2004.
- LDQ productions documentary-‘The story of Vishnu – the temple elephant’ 2004.
- INNOVA ‘Song of the Veena’ recorded in Minnesota and released worldwide 2007.
Her latest offering – Into the Raga -an album featuring Nirmala (in the company of India’s most virtuosic artists on Indian violin and Indian percussion) has been released worldwide under the INNOVA label in October 2010.
Awards and recognitions
- In 1989 Nirmala was chosen by the Indian Council for Cultural relations to represent India and perform in International Festivals. Berne, Switzerland was the first venue where she performed in 1991.
- In 1990 Nirmala was given the topnotch ranking of ‘A grade Artist’ by All India Radio, India’s premier gradations board.
- Since 1995, she has received grants such as Artists Initiative, Cultural Collaboration Grants from the Minnesota State Arts Board; grants and commissions from the Jerome Foundation, Playwrights Center, COMPAS Meet the Composer New York.
- Nirmala was selected as a BUSH Artistic fellow in 2006 by the Bush Foundation.
- In 2008 she was given the 2008 Achievement award by the India Association of MN, a unique honor given to one individual in the State of Minnesota every year.
- Rotary Club International presented her with a Vocational Excellence award in 2009.
- Nirmala won the Best concert award from the Indian Fine Arts Society India (2009) Best Veena artist from the Narada Gana Sabha 2009 and Best Veena concert of the Festival from the Carnegie Hall of India –the Music Academy Madras, India in Jan 2010.
- In May 2010, Nirmala has received (from the MacPhail Center for Music) the McKnight Performing Artists Fellowship for the year 2010-2011. She has become the first Indian Musician to be chosen for this Fellowship.