CHENNAI: We are aware that Muthuswamy Dikshitar was the most complete classical composer and a versatile singer. His compositions are the grandeur and majesty of his music, the intellectually blended words, appealing lyrics and the over-all sophisticated approach with, aesthetic excellence and spiritual loftiness of the kritis, which are all on the vilambakala. And full of gamakas.
It is interesting to note that it was in the 1790s, that Dikshitar came into contact with ‘tunes’, that came to india with the British East India company, donning the role of a ‘lyric writer’ in contrast to that of a ‘vaggeyakara’ and wrote powerful lyrics in Sanskrit to ‘easily accessible’ colonial tunes.
Composer Kaniks Kannikeswaran, of USA gave a lucid lecture demonstration recently on the connection, between Muthuswamy Dikshitar (1775-1835) and western tunes of the 1800s. The inspiring speech was truly engaging.
The lecture provided a ‘global perspective’ on what was happening to colonial tunes world wide. He said the ‘gallopede’ that migrated from main land Europe to England, got transformed into a ‘country dance’, again transforming as a ‘kamalasana vandita’ (dhyana gitam of kamalamba of dikshitar) in India and again transforming into an ‘appalachian dulcimer’ tune in USA as well as british national anthem’.
Certainly this award winning visionary, composer Kaniks Kannikeswaran an IIT graduate from Chennai is a music educator, scholar, whose musical productions and much acclaimed ‘choral renditions’, needs to be appreciated.
He is the recipient of several awards, such as ‘no night fellowship’, ‘ohio heritage fellowship’ the ‘just community award of USA, life time achievement award from the geeva foundation and the humanities award from the indian- american foundation, he has been described as a ‘renaissance personality’, who effortlessly traverses diverse disciplines such as music, spirituality, and management. His magnum opus ‘Shanti’ ‘a journey of peace’ featuring mixed chorus, western and indian ensemble and dancers , have been a hit, in USA and Europe, which won him medals, in the prestigious ‘champion category’, in the seventh world choir games,.
While his award winning research on the 18th century India -colonial music of India, is beginning to have an impact on ‘musical pedagogy’ his research on the similarity between ‘dikshitar ‘and dhrupad’ have led to collaborations, with gundecha brothers.
He is the founder of ‘American school of Indian art’, an institution committed to bringing the best of the east and the west, to the Indian-American diaspora and bond, is certainly acclaimed by all.
This pioneer of the ‘Indian American choral movement’, whose far reaching work in the area, has led to the founding of ‘Indian community choirs in several cities in USA and work spreading to Europe in 2013, where the first ever ‘ Surinamese’- Hindustani choir’, founded under his leadership performed at the Hague in Netherlands recently.
This scholar spreading the doctrine on ‘western notes of Dikshitar’, is expected back in India, during the ensuing Margazhi festival.