Kanniks is a prolific composer
and lyricist and his compositions spanning a fifteen year
period cut across musical genres. Firmly grounded in Indian
classical music, Kanniks fully uses the expressive capabilities
of rAga based music in conjunction with
orchestral elements inspired by Western and other world
music forms. In recognition of his talents as a composer,
Kanniks was awarded the prestigious Individual Artist
Fellowship (Composer) by the Ohio Arts Council.
The range of music covered by Kanniks
is phenomenal; the contrast between his folk music for
ghumar and his 'Peace and Joy'
hymn or the kumudakriya tillana
or the choral/orchestral arrangement of gangA
(Watch videoclip on Youtube).
In the classical domain, his compositional
forms cover the traditionally known forms such as the
kriti, tillAna, tarAna, dhrupad, gIta,
swarajati as well as innovative forms such as the
swarapada. Kanniks has several kritis, gItas
and swarapadas in sanskrit and his native Tamil to
His arrangement of verses from the
Bhagwad Gita in the rAga shrI with choral harmony and
crisp harmony has resulted in the sublime yet terrifying
His 'Sound of Seasons' is a
symphonic choral presentation of ragas that are
associated with the changing seasons. Featuring a range
of ragas such as basant, vasanta, saarang, malhaar and
others, the orchestral score build several complex
layers around the core. This hour long work was
performed by the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra along with
the Greater Cincinnati Indian Children's choir and the
Cincinnati Children's choir.
His choral arrangement of madhurAshtakam
is a totally fresh presentation of the beautiful sanskrit
text. Set in the major scale, with an almost baroque feel,
this suite in five movements was choreographed in the
western classical ballet dance form in Kanniks' musical
production Basant in 1994.
In The Blue Jewel
in 1996, Kanniks used chants in various languages such
as Sanskrit and Hebrew with elements of choral and orchestral
harmony. The Blue Jewel was also inspired by various other
World Music forms.
"I was overwhelmed by the
freshness and boundless expansion of your music. You used
European harmonic structures for meoldic fabrics based
on Hindu motifs woven into a polyphonic tapestry. Be blessed
for your enormous enrichment you have brought with your
art, to the city we both reside...."
- Professor Bonia Shur, Composer, Director of Liturgical
Arts, Hebrew Union College, Cinncinnati
The music that Kanniks composed for
Jeevan Taal in 1998 for some of the greatest
names in classical and contemporary Indian dance and choreography
- Mallika Sarabhai and Mrinalini Sarabhai
used folk melodies crisply couched in synergistic western
synthesis of the east and the west was
evident in the pulsating music, where folk music was accompanied
by a synthesizer and other western instruments. This is
truly the theme of this festival, what this festival aims
at - making a platform for all countries to become one"
- The Asian Age, January 1999 (about Jeevan Taal)
Kanniks has composed jingles, background
scores for television serials and short films. A notable
example is the work he did for a Malayalam Serial broadcast
on Asianet - all over South Asia and the Middle East.
Kanniks was recently interviewed on the far reaching tamil
television network - Sun TV, where he shared his experiences
in creating orchestral harmony for rAga based music themes.
Kanniks has also penned lyrics and
composed several songs in the contemporary Indian film
idiom. In 1998, he worked with lyricist Va.Ve.Su of Chennai
and created a recording for Doordarshan
Chennai - of music in the Indian film idiom with leading
artists from the Tamil film industry.
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Veteran Indian classical musician
Lakshmi Shankar performed the music
of Shanti in March 2004. In her own words, "Your
compositions are wonderful and your command over both
the Hindustani and the Karnatic idiom is very commendable"
chants, musical arrangements of ancient chants, free form
chants, tarAnas, oratoria, gats, mallAris and hymns and
presented rAgas such as vAgadIshwari, bhatiyAr in an orchestrated
context. It was in recognition of the vision of the project
that the Ohio Arts Council overwhelmingly supported Shanti
with a grant.
"It is amazing that Kanniks
has communicated the essence of rAgas such as kalyANi
to a western choir and an orchestra through a written
score and has had sanskrit slokas performed in these rAgas
with perfectly syntactic choral harmony... Tamilnadu will
soon get to know Kanniks Kannikeswaran and his amazing
- Writer Sujatha - Highly regarded author
and script writer (Tamil) - in leading Tamil weekly Ananda
Vikatan, August 2005 (about Shanti)
released in 1992 Kanniks has composed, orchestrated and
sung the ancient Tamil verses of the1st millennium CE.
In a sequence of classical rAgas such as mOhana, kurinji,
bahudAri, latAngi etc. Tiruvarangam presents simple yet
elegant melodies, that are easily hummable.
essence of the verses jump out at you in this musical
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"Tiruvarangam is a masterpiece....No
other song can evoke the same sublime feeling as amalanAdi
pirAn in tiruvarangam"
- Crazy Mohan, Leading Playwright and dialogue writer,
In Skanda (2004)
Kanniks presents hymns from the Tevaram in their traditional
tunes as well as contemporary musical arrangements of
the Tiruppukazh hymns of the 2nd millennium
CE. Covering rAgas such as mAlkauns, nAdanamakriya,
kAmod, yaman kalyAN and more, Skanda is literally
a journey through the Murugan temples of Tamilnadu.
The snake concerto
composed by Kanniks and performed by the Cincinnati Symphony
Orchestra is an orchestral composition inspired by Indian
Aadavallaanin Aindu Sabhaigal
composed in 1998 features tillaanas in rAgas
such as kumudakriya, rasikapriya. Other intricate tillaanas
composed by Kanniks in rAgas such as
mEgh, shudh sArang etc. have been used
by dancers in stage performances.
In addition to the above Kanniks
has a prolific collection of un-recorded compositions
as well as musical arrangements of ancient Tamil and sanskrit