Nirmala Rajasekar

Song of the Veena

Innova 214

South Indian Classical Music from Minnesota


1.   Varnam                                    Navaragamalika(Nine Ragas)          PatnamSubramanya Iyer          Adi               5:55

2.   Ganesha Pancharathnam            Ragamalika                                    AdiSankara                            TisraEkam    4:21

3.   Shree Saraswathi                       Arabhi                                           MuthuswamiDikshidar           Rupakam      5:02

4.   Enthavedu                               SaraswathiManohari                      Thyagaraja                              Adi               4:02 

5.   Saravana Bhava                        Shanmukhapriya                            PapanasamSivan                    Adi             23:38

6.   Karunai Deivame                      Sindhubhairavi                              MaduraiT.Srinivasan              Adi               4:02

7.   Jagadodharana                         Peelu                                             PurandharaDasa                     Adi               6:00

8.   Ragi Thandiro                          Chakravaaham                               PurandharaDasa                     Adi               4:57



Nirmala Rajasekar came on the concert stage as a 13 yearold soloist. Since then she has performed around the world on her veena.  She is a disciple of octogenarianKalpakam Swaminathan and is a recipient of several awards and honors includingthe prestigious A-grade rankingfrom Indian Radio and Television. She is a 2006 winner of the Bush Artistic Fellowship for her outstandingwork in music.  She is known forher creative, passionate and innovative performing style which stays firmlyrooted in the structure of Carnatic music, the classical music of South India.She now resides with her family in Minnesota, USA.

BalajiChandran, Ghatam

MarcusWise, Tabla

V.Srinivasan, Mridangam

VijayaDesikan, Violin


1.               EverySouth Indian concert typically begins with a varnam and this varnam is anespecially beautiful composition includingnine different melodies.  It is acreation of  Patnam Subramanya Iyer(1845-1902).       


2.               GaneshaPancharathnam’ is a poem by Adi Sankara composed in the 8thcentury.  The ‘five jewels ofGanesha’ are heard here for perhaps the first time in an all instrumentalrendition.  This piece features allthe five instruments of this album together for the first time.


3. ‘Shree Saraswathi  is a salution to the Goddess Saraswathi who plays theveena.  It is the work of  composer Sri Muthuswami Dikshidar (1775-1834),himself a veena player and singer. This song is followed by a short ornamentation of ‘Kalpana Swaras’(imaginative note pattern creation).


4.  In ‘ENTHAVEDU’the composer eloquently describes his love and admiration for Rama who he saysis enshrined in his very soul. This composition is by Saint Thyagaraja (1767-1847) known as one of theTrinity of Carnatic music.


5.  The main suite ofthe album is ‘Saravana Bhava’ by veteran Tamil composer PapanasamSivan (1890-1973).  The piece openswith the exploration of the melody known as Alapana.  This is followed by a rhythmic exploration known as Thanam -a speciality of the veena.  Thesong is suffixed with a round of imaginative Neraval (word play) Kalpana Swaras(imaginative note pattern creation) all of which is an extempore interplaybetween the veena, violin  and themridangam.  An exciting percussionsolo (‘Thani Avarthanam’) is also heard in this section.


6.  KarunaiDeivame’ is a composition in the raga Sindhubhairavi by MaduraiT.Srinivasan.  The artisticarrangement of the composition features the tabla in this song which praisesthe Goddess as the all-compassionate one.


7. ‘Jagadodharana’ is a work of Purandhara Dasa (1494-1564), known as thegrandfather of Carnatic music.  Itis a favorite of many because it narrates the multiple stories of the childKrishna and is written in the mother tongue of the composer - Kannada - anancient South Indian language. This version is performed in the raga Peelu.


8.  Ragithandiro’ is a classic example of a song sung in the Unchavarthi Traditionwhere the saint-composers would walk the streets of the village singing songs.  The village folk would join themwherever possible and would also donate grain to the singing bards.  In this song the composer cleverly punson the noun ‘Ragi‘ (as the name of the grain that he would like people todonate) and the verb 'Ragi' (which could mean ‘to be’), and extols the virtuesof an ideal community citizen.  Themusical arrangement is intended to create a picture of the saint walking andsinging towards the horizon. 


Recorded and mastered by Matthew Zimmerman at Wildsound Studio, Minneapolis

Produced by Matthew Zimmerman, Nirmala Rajasekar, and Dan Rein

Photos: Dan Rein and Pramilla Vasudevan

Design and layout: Philip Blackburn, Dan Rein, Pramilla Vasudevan

innova Director: Philip Blackburn

Operations Manager: Chris Campbell

innova is supported by an endowment from the McKnightFoundation.