Program: Zakir Hussain, Jayanthi Kumaresh, Kala Ramnath

April 17, 2022
Somerville Theatre


Zakir Hussain, Kala Ramnath, and Jayanthi Kumaresh have come together for the first time as a trio for the 2022 TRIVENI tour. Leading Indian classical exponents of their respective instruments—tabla, violin, and Saraswati veena—each is also renowned as a virtuoso collaborator, pathbreaker and educator, advancing the art of their particular instruments to remarkable levels in the context of their classical traditions and beyond. Feted and honored in India and abroad with numerous awards, each has successfully toured all over the world with their own acclaimed solo projects.

Triveni is the mythical site of the union of three sacred rivers in India, and the name aptly represents the confluence of the varied musicalities which the three maestros bring to this collaboration. A hallmark of Zakir Hussain’s iconic career has been his groundbreaking work at the forefront of brilliant musical dialogues between Hindustani (North Indian) and Carnatic (South Indian) music. With Kala Ramnath, an innovative representative of North Indian raga tradition, Jayanthi Kumaresh, the leading exponent of the ancient South Indian veena, and Zakir Hussain seamlessly stitching North and South Indian rhythm traditions to provide a bridge for veena and violin to meet, TRIVENI promises to be a fluent, joyous and entirely original musical conversation, a sonic experience of the highest order.


The pre-eminent classical tabla virtuoso of our time, Zakir Hussain is appreciated both in the field of percussion and in the music world at large as an international phenomenon and one of the world’s most esteemed and influential musicians. The foremost disciple of his father, the legendary Ustad Allarakha, Zakir was a child prodigy who began his professional career at the age of twelve, accompanying India’s greatest classical musicians and dancers and touring internationally with great success by the age of eighteen. His brilliant accompaniment, solo performance and genre-defying collaborations, including his pioneering work to develop a dialogue between North and South Indian musicians, have elevated the status of his instrument both in India and globally— work begun a generation earlier by his father— bringing the tabla into a new dimension of renown and appreciation.

Widely considered a chief architect of the contemporary world music movement, Zakir’s contribution has been unique, with many historic and groundbreaking collaborations, including Shakti, Remember Shakti, Masters of Percussion, Planet Drum and Global Drum Project with Mickey Hart, Tabla Beat Science, Sangam with Charles Lloyd and Eric Harland, CrossCurrents with Dave Holland and Chris Potter, in trio with Béla Fleck and Edgar Meyer, and in quartet with Herbie Hancock.

As a composer, he has scored music for numerous feature films, major events and productions. He has composed three concertos, and his third, the first-ever concerto for tabla and orchestra, was premiered in India in September, 2015, by the Symphony ;Orchestra of India, premiered in Europe and the UK in 2016, and in the USA in April, 2017, by the National Symphony Orchestra at Kennedy Center. A Grammy award winner, Zakir is the recipient of countless awards and honors, including Padma Bhushan, Sangeet Natak Akademi Award, the USA’s National Heritage Fellowship and Officier in France’s Order of Arts and Letters. Voted “Best Percussionist” by both the Downbeat Critics’ Poll and Modern Drummer’s Reader’s Poll over several years including 2020, Zakir was honored in 2018 by the Montreal Jazz Festival with their Antonio Carlos Jobim Award. In 2019, Zakir was named a Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellow and received two honorary doctorates, one from Berklee College of Music and the other from Indira Kala Sangit University in Khairagarh, India.

As an educator, he conducts many workshops and lectures each year, has been in residence at Princeton University and Stanford University, and, in 2015, was appointed Regents Lecturer at UCBerkeley. His yearly workshop in the San Francisco Bay Area, conducted for the past 30 years, has become a widely anticipated event for performers and serious students of tabla. He is the founder and president of Moment Records, an
independent record label presenting rare live recordings of Indian classical music and world music. Zakir was resident artistic director at SFJazz from 2013 until 2016, and was honored with SF Jazz’s Lifetime Achievement Award on January 18, 2017, in recognition of his “unparalleled contribution to the world of music”.


Dr. Jayanthi Kumaresh is India’s torch bearer worldwide for Saraswathi Veena, the national instrument of India. An artist, collaborator, composer, researcher, creator, pioneer, and educator, her life achievements over 35 years truly embody the rich musical heritage of India, making her one of India's legendary Veena masters.

Apart from several prestigious venues and festivals in India, Jayanthi has performed at many international festivals, including the San Francisco Jazz Festival, Darbar Festival London, Celtic Connections in Scotland, Queensland Music Festival, Darwin Music Festival, and Adelaide Music Festival, BBC Proms London and at prestigious venues such as United Nations in New York, the Palladium, Indiana, Théåtre de la Ville, Paris, and Northwest Folklife Festival, Seattle.

She has received many awards in India such “Sangeetha Choodamani,” “Kalaimamani” by the Government of Tamil Nadu, “Veena Naada Mani,” “Kala Ratna,” “Sathyashree,” and “Gaana Varidhi.” She is a 10-time recipient of The Music Academy, Chennai’s “Award for Veena,” “Sangeet Shikar Samman,” and “Indira Sivasailam Endowment Medal,” to name a few. As a pioneer in her field, Jayanthi has presented Veena to audiences in every corner of the world in different formats.

Apart from her solo concerts, she has performed with legends such as Ustad Zakir Hussain and several other maestros. Her "45 Ragas" is one of the first ever one-artist, one-instrument live concert non-stop for 124 minutes. Her "Story in Concert" is an integration of different art forms in one production where story-telling, music, and painting all come under one umbrella. She is the founder of the Indian National Orchestra, featuring 21 star musicians from all over India – first of its kind orchestra for Indian classical music. Her album Mysterious Duality is a path-breaker where one artist and one instrument have created a philharmonic effect. Her web series, Cup O’ Carnatic, which popularizes Carnatic music in general and Veena in particular has more than 2 million views on social media. 

A researcher, she holds a Doctorate for her works on “styles and playing techniques of the Saraswathi Veena.” Her series of talks and lecture-demonstrations at various universities and schools and several TEDx talks have made her a sought-after ambassador of Indian music among the younger generation. As a composer, she has composed and created music for many musicals, dance productions, and documentaries.

Her rich lineage of music can be traced back six generations and her prodigious musical journey began at age 3 under her mother Vidushi Lalgudi. R. Rajalakshmi. She then left home to live with her guru Vidushi Padmavathi Ananthagopalan for 22 years and learnt the intricate science and art of playing the Veena. Her playing technique was further enhanced under the tutelage of Veena virtuoso Dr. S.Balachander.

Dr. Jayanthi Kumaresh has dedicated her life to the Saraswathi Veena. Her playing style truly brings out the voice of the Veena, in terms of originality in content, technique, virtuosity and expression that transcends the boundaries of language and region.


Maestro Kala Ramnath with her ‘Singing Violin’ stands among the world’s finest, most inspirational instrumentalists. Her playing has been featured on the Grammy-nominated Miles from India project, compositions of hers have appeared on the Grammy-winning album In 27 Pieces and the Kronos Quartet’s 50 For The Future. The UK-based Songlines magazine hailed Kala Ramnath as one of the 50 world’s best instrumentalists and selected her album Kala as one of its 50 best recordings. She was the first Indian violinist ever to be featured in the violin Bible, The Strad. She was the subject of a solo essay in the third edition to The Encyclopedia- Rough Guide to World Music. Her contributions feature in Hollywood soundtracks like the Oscar-nominated Blood Diamond and many more.

Most significantly in an Indian context, in May 2017 she was awarded the most illustrious Sangeet Natak Academy Puraskar for her contributions to the violin in Hindustani Classical Music.

Born into a dynasty of prodigious musical talent, one which has given Indian music such violin legends as her paternal uncle Prof. T.N. Krishnan and paternal aunt Dr. N. Rajam, Kala’s violinistic vision began manifesting early. Recognizing her innate talent, her astute grandfather, Vidwan A. Narayan Iyer took her under his tutelage. Thus began her most auspicious journey on the road to astounding renown and international acclaim.

She became a pre-eminent disciple of the legendary vocalist Pandit Jasraj. During this mentorship Kala began revolutionizing approaches to vocalized Hindustani violin technique. During this time she began formulating a voice quite unlike other Indian or non-Indian violinists. Justifiably her voice came to be dubbed ‘Singing Violin.’

Acknowledged as a virtuoso of staggering proportions, Kala has performed at the most prestigious music festivals in India. She has appeared on world stages including the Sydney Opera House, Paris’ Théâtre de la Ville, London’s Queen Elizabeth Hall, San Francisco’s Palace of Fine Arts, Singapore’s Esplanade, New York’s Carnegie Hall, the Rudolstadt Festival in Germany, and the Edinburgh Music Festival in Scotland.

Kala is at the vanguard of the present generation of Indian instrumental superstars. Due to her rigorous training in the Hindustani classical tradition and familiarity with the Karnatic classical tradition she comfortably forges musical alliances with artists of renown from different genres around the globe incorporating elements of Western Classical, Jazz, Flamenco and traditional African music into her rich and varied repertoire.

“…If Mozart had been transported to the South Asian subcontinent, this is what he and improvised Western classical music might have sounded like. This comparison is not thrown in to befuddle or impress. Kala Ramnath is a musician of giant like qualities…” Ken Hunt in the Jazz Wise magazine review, September 2004.

Kala is a sought-after artist and has worked and experimented with such orchestras as the London Symphony and London Philharmonic and with world music legends like George Brooks, Kai Eckhart, Bela Fleck, Terry Bozzio, Giovanni Hidalgo, Ustad Zakir Hussain, Abbos Kossimov, Ray Manzarek of the Doors, Edgar Meyer, and Airto Moreira to name but a few. Raga Afrika, Global Conversation, and Yashila are bands Kala has founded with her fellow artists.

Along with being a stellar performer, Kala is also a sought-after teacher. Besides her busy performing and composing schedules, she continues to teach, lecture, and conduct workshops all around the world. In changing times music still needs to be passed on and taught. It still needs to be communicated. Among recent ‘outlets’ have been the Rotterdam Conservatory of Music in Netherlands, University of Giessen in Germany, and the Weill Institute in association with Carnegie Hall in New York.

Kala has been bestowed the ‘A Top’ grade by India’s Radio and Television and is one of the youngest artists to have achieved this honor. She is the recipient of many awards – notable among them are the ‘Rashtriya Kumar Gandharva Sanman,’ ‘Pandit Jasraj Gaurav Puraskar,’ and the ‘Sur Ratna.’ Recently and most notably of all, she was awarded the Sangeet Natak Academy Puraskar.

An established name in the world music scene, Kala today is keen to enrich the lives of under-privileged and sick children through music in the form of her foundation, Kalashree. 

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