" 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 and life."
Kanniks Kannikeswaran The Blue Jewel 1996

Kanniks 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 raagas.

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His magnum opus 'Shanti 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 2006).

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 Ananda Vikatan. 

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.

Kanniks ceaselessly 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.

Kanniks offers 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.

Kanniks' Raaga 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.

In 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 several occasions.

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 Saraswathi Sundaresan 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.

Kanniks - 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 Warehousing.

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.

 

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