" We are at a stage in history,
where we are equipped with the powers of science and information
like never before. We also have in our possession the
collective wisdom of our ancestors which can lead us into
ways of living sustainably on earth, leading a life which
will hand over the heritage of our planet to our children
exactly as we received it, in its richness, resources
Kanniks Kannikeswaran The Blue Jewel 1996
Kannikeswaran is a visionary
musician, composer, music educator and writer with several
recordings, productions and scores to his credit. Often
referred to as 'The Magical Musician from Madras' Kanniks'
skill lies in his ability to create captivating music
easily accessible to a broad audience base, blending complex
features of diverse World Music forms. All of Kanniks' projects
are consistent with his vision of building community through
the celebration of threads of commonality between diverse
peoples and cultures. Kanniks is a recent recipient of the
prestigious McKnight Visiting Artist Fellowship
(Minnesota) and the Ohio Heritage Fellowship.
Kanniks is hailed as the pioneer
of the Indian American choral movement. He has founded
and directed Indian American community choirs in
Cincinnati OH, Bethlehem PA, Houston TX and Tampa FL and
created a large repertoire of choral music based on
His magnum opus
A Journey of Peace' a musical theater production and a choral
symphony made history by bringing together a community choir
of over 150 singers of both Indian and western origin in
the Cincinnati community, in a spectacular performance at
the prestigious Aronoff Center for the Arts. (2004 and
The magic of Shanti
was re-created at Lehigh valley when Shanti was
performed by the newly formed Lehigh valley Indian community
choir and singers from local choirs along with guest singers
from the Martin Luther King coalition chorale who were
inspired to drive up to Bethlehem PA from Cincinnati OH to
participate in this grand venture. (2006, 2008). The Shanti
experience was re-created in Houston in a yearlong series of
workshops that culminated in a grand performance that moved
the Greater Houston Community. (See www.shantichoir.org)
Shanti won accolades
from critics and community leaders at large in Ohio,
Penssylvania and Texas. In addition it received a glowing
tribute from the well known writer Sujata in the tamil weekly
Shanti left participants
and audiences moved. The entire series of rehearsals and
workshops leading upto the performance constitute a transformative
experiences building communities between diverse groups
such as the Martin Luther King coalition choir, singers
from the Indian diaspora spanning a diverse range of ages
from 21 through 80 covering a range of languages, professions
and more. The Cincinnati Indian community choir founded
by Kanniks boasts of participants speaking a range of languages
from Assamese to Malayalam.
Kanniks has done path breaking
work in bringing the legacy of the little known genre of
nottusvara sahityas (music based on popular western melodies
of the Colonial period) of master composer Muthusvami
Dikshitar to the world community in a highly acclaimed
recording featuring Indian voices and Celtic accompaniment.
This recording ‘Vismaya
– An Indo Celtic Musical Journey’ featuring the first
ever compilation of the 39 compositions of Dikshitar
in this genre, has earned wide acclaim. Dr. Pappu Venugopala
Rao of the American Institute of Indian Studies has
described this album as ‘a marvelous effort and a recording
to be owned and cherished by every musician…’. His
presentation on this topic at the 81st Annual Conference of
the Music Academy, Madras has won him awards.
Kanniks offered lectures at several venues
in the United States, India and Singapore on topics such as the nottusvara sahityas of the 19th century,
innovation in the field of arts, community building through
the arts etc.
inspires people through his passion for music and his commitment
to empower individuals and societies through music. He stands
for the possibility of bringing widespread awareness of
the depth and breadth and the non-denominational spiritual
core of Indian music and culture amongst the Indian diaspora.
His vision of a pan-Indian music Raaga
Vidya™ (that he passionately teaches) builds
upon the core of commonality of various Indian music forms
and appeals to practitioners and connoisseurs of Karnatic
and Hindustani music alike.
workshops on 'Creative Power' that awaken the
creative potential latent in participants. His recent course
offering on this topic through the University of Cincinnati
Honors Program has been described by students as 'The most
memorable and valuable course' in their curriculam.
Vidya™ workshops where he powerfully shares
the wealth of Indian music through pattern recognition exercises
as well as examples from contemporary music are a great
draw amongst the diaspora especially amongst children of
Indian origin. He worked with the children of the community
for a 9 month period on 'Beyond
Seasons' a project that brought the raagas of the
seasons through a series of workshops spanning the four
seasons. This workshop series culminated in The Sound of
Seasons, a grand concert the brought together the
Greater Cincinnati Indian Children's Choir (students from
the workshop series), the Cincinnati Children's choir and
the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra. This work
represents the first time that the Cincinnati Chamber
Orchestra played Raaga based music.
Chitram - another multimedia theater production,
Kanniks explores the diversity and plurality inherent in
the very nature of Indian culture, through music, dance
and a journey through the multi-faceted aspects of India.
Chitram was performed at Wright State University in Spring
2005 and was hailed as an extraordinarily educative program
created with the finest sense of aesthetics.Kanniks'
production. Chitram received attention from scholars
such as Solomon Pappaiah
when it was performed at the Tamilnadu Foundation in
Detroit. Chitram made its first corporate debut
in 2006 when it was performed for the Asia Pacific American
Forum at General Electric Corporation, Cincinnati OH.
Chitram has also been performed at Wilmington College Ohio
and at Tampa FL.
As a musician, Kanniks
has collaborated with leading artistes from around the world.
His work The Snake Concerto
was performed by the prestigious Cincinnati
Pops Orchestra, conducted by John
Morris Russell. His score for Jeevan
Taal (produced by Mallika
Sarabhai - for Mahotsav 1999), based on several Indian
folk music traditions was choreographed by Mrinalini Sarabhai,
one of the foremost exponents of classical and modern Indian
dance, and has received wide acclaim from the Indian press.
Kanniks has collaborated
with Lakshmi Shankar (featured in the Academy Award winning
score of Gandhi) one of the foremost classical musicians
of India and with celebrated conductor Catherine Roma on
In 1998, Kanniks composed
The Cosmic Dance Halls,
a musical feature celebrating the five revered Dance Hall
temples of Shiva Nataraja. This work weaves the legends
around the five dance halls in a musical framework based
on south indian classical music, and it draws selectively
from the tamil hymns of the Nayanmar saints of the 1st millennium
CE. The Cosmic Dance Halls was choreographed by Kalaimamani
and was performed at the Patteeswarar temple at Coimbatore
during the Natyanjali festival in 1998 and has been featured
several times on the state owned television network Doordarshan.
Kanniks' album Tiruvarangam
(1992) explores the Prabandam hymns of the Alwars of the
1st millennium CE (celebrating the glory of Srirangam in
Tamilnadu) in a contemporary idiom, and has been acclaimed
widely. His current release Tamil Marai (2006) is a compilation
of his recordings where he has set ancient Tamil verses
to contemporary music accessible to children.
His recording Banaras,
released under his ASIA label presents his own compositions
as well as his rendition of the kritis of Muthuswamy Dikshitar
in his own unique style of rendition.
In 1996, Kanniks composed
and directed The
Blue Jewel, a musical salutation to the planet
Earth, bringing together a wide range of artistes to
celebrate the message of interconnectedness of life on
earth. The Blue Jewel received acclaim from critics and
community leaders alike in Cincinnati, and was performed
again in 1997 and in 1999 and yet again in 2008.
Kanniks has lectured
extensively on Indian culture and has offered music workshops
and diversity training
at several educational institutions, corporations and cultural
organizations nationwide. Kanniks' workshops have been hailed
as being very informative and comprehensive and have earned
tremendous praise from diverse audiences.
Kanniks has been receiving
support for his creative work in the form of several grants
from the City of Cincinnati, the Ohio Arts Council and the
Fine Arts Fund. since 1996.
Kanniks is unconditionally
committed to spreading awareness of the unique cultural
wealth of India and his website Templenet,
that he has single handedly authored and published has been
the authoritative source of information on the temples of
India on the internet for the last 10 years.
- based in Cincinnati Ohio, hails from Chennai India.
He graduated with a Bachelors degree in Engineering from
the Indian Institute of Technology
- Madras, and then later on acquired advanced degrees
in Engineering and Business in the United States. He is
a senior consultant in the field of Information Technology
with particular emphasis on Business Intelligence and Data
Kanniks is a
passionate educator and he teaches Indian Music at the College
Conservatory of Music, University of Cincinnati.
He is also the founder and director of The
American School of Indian Art,
founded with the vision of creating
awareness about the ancient and diverse Indian music and art
traditions in the western hemisphere.