Musical Horizons: T. S. Nandakumar’s Symphony of Indian Music in the United States

Musical Horizons: T. S. Nandakumar's Symphony of Indian Music in the United States
Photo Courtesy: T.S. Nandakumar

In the vibrant tapestry of Indian classical music, one name resonates with the profound impact and contribution to Carnatic percussion – T. Shankaranarayanan Nandakumar, affectionately known as TSN. His virtuosity on the mridangam, a double-sided drum that is the cornerstone of Carnatic music, along with his mastery in various other percussion instruments such as konnakol (vocal percussion), thavil, ghatam, kanjira, and morsing, has not only garnered him international acclaim but has also played a pivotal role in bridging cultural gaps through music.

TSN’s journey from the serene village of Ambalappuzha in Kerala, India to becoming a global ambassador of Indian classical music is nothing short of inspirational. Born into a family deeply entrenched in promoting Carnatic devotional music, Nandakumar’s early fascination with rhythmic beats paved the way for his lifelong dedication to music. Under the tutelage of Shri Kaithavana Madhavadas in a traditional Gurukula system, he honed his skills and soon became recognized as a ‘Laya Vidwan’ – a master of rhythm.

His relocation to New Jersey marked a new chapter in spreading Carnatic percussive arts beyond Indian shores. The establishment of TSN’s Percussive Arts Centre.Inc (TSNPAC) became a beacon for aspiring musicians in the United States, providing them an opportunity to delve deep into the world of Carnatic percussion under TSN’s guidance. This center has emerged as a crucial hub for nurturing talent and fostering collaborations within the realm of Carnatic arts.

The significance of TSNPAC extends beyond mere education; it serves as a platform for cultural exchange and understanding. Through meticulously organized annual events featuring performances by notable artists like N. Rajam and A. Kanyakumari and unique initiatives like Mridangam Arangetram – where students perform alongside accomplished artists without prior rehearsal – TSNPAC has redefined musical education and performance.

Musical Horizons: T. S. Nandakumar's Symphony of Indian Music in the United States

Photo Courtesy: T.S. Nandakumar

One cannot overlook TSN’s contributions to global awareness regarding Indian percussion through participation in international festivals and workshops. His efforts have significantly elevated the stature of Indian drumming traditions on the world stage, facilitating cross-cultural exchanges that enrich both performers and audiences alike.

His philanthropic endeavors further illustrate his commitment to leveraging music for societal benefit. Organizing a 24-hour non-stop Akanda Seva Bhajan in aid of India’s tsunami victims showcases how TSN harnesses music’s power to heal and unite communities during times of need.

TSN’s discography serves as an invaluable resource for anyone keen on exploring Indian percussion’s nuanced realms. Albums such as “Jewels of Rhythm” underscore his ensemble’s versatility, blending traditional rhythms with contemporary sensibilities – an auditory feast that captivates listeners worldwide.

Moreover, his role as an educator extends beyond physical boundaries through online platforms such as YouTube (@TSNandakumar) and social media (www.facebook.com/tsnpercussion), allowing him to connect with students globally despite geographical constraints.

As we delve into TSN’s illustrious career spanning decades filled with accolades including The Lifetime Achievement Award by Shanti Foundation Chennai among others, it becomes evident that his legacy transcends mere performances or educational ventures; it symbolizes an unwavering dedication towards preserving and propagating Carnatic music across generations.

In essence, TSN embodies the soulful journey of Indian classical music across oceans – from its roots nestled in sacred temples to grand stages worldwide where diverse audiences unite under its spellbinding allure. His story reinforces that music indeed knows no boundaries; it flows like water – adapting, nourishing souls it touches along its path while retaining its essence.

Video links: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cYBjDQTlQaY&t=5s

As we look forward to more chapters unfolding in this harmonious journey led by T.S.Nandakumar’s passionate endeavours at mridangam.info/, one can’t help but be reminded about how individuals like him play instrumental roles (pun intended) in shaping cultural landscapes far from their origins yet close to their hearts.

 

Published By: Aize Perez

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