Monday, April 8, 2013

Documentary covering AkashA in Delhi 2011.

Click Here!!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Pune, Dec 2013

 I spent the last few days of 2012 in Pune, India with Guruji and the 3 recipients of the Orme Maheswaran Music Scholarship - Gayathri, Pravin and Suraj. They had a fairly strict daily discipline...early morning walks, and practise for at least 6 hours a day...all 3 lost a fair bit of weight, and the change in their sitar playing was easily noticable with the rigourous riyaaz.

They ended their stay with a performance for Guruji and the other students at Naad on Dec 31st.

What more can a sishya ask for, than the blessings of the Guru, that too on a New Year's day.... What a glorious way for them to continue on their sitar journey....

Thyagaraja Tansen Music Festival 2013

23rd and  24th February 2013

The Thyagaraja Tansen Music Festival, organised by TFA, is an initiative to celebrate the legacy of Indian Classical Music, made available to all of us in the present day through a process of artistic brilliance, creation, careful cultivation, preservation and also continuous improvisation by the Masters of this artform - in a process which has gone on for centuries.

The Thyagaraja-Tansen Music Festival, organised by The Temple of Fine Arts Malaysia,  was a 2 day music festival held at the Shantanand Auditorium, TFA, Kuala Lumpur. The festival has two main aims - the first, to honour and celebrate the lives of Saint Thyagaraja and Miyan Tansen, the patriachs of Carnatic and Hindustani classical music respectively,
The secondary aim was to expose, popularise, and sensationalise these Indian classical music traditions to Malaysian audiences.

The objective of the festival was to highlight the potential, variety and richness of Indian Classical Music, and to show its relevance in the overall music industry today, and also to promote the ‘guru-sishya’ method of transferring knowledge of this tradition, practised through the centuries, i.e. with respect to the founders and gurus of the tradition, to embrace humility, discipline and reverence alongside the direct learning of the art-form.

Traditionally, the Thyagaraja Music Festival and Tansen Music Festival are held annually, but separately, at separate times of the year and in separate geographical locations. (The Thyagaraja Music Festival is celebrated on an annual basis in Thiruvaiyaru, Tamil Nadu, near his Samadhi (tomb) at the banks of Kaveri River.  The Tansen Music Festival, (in the memory of Miyan Tansen, one of the nine gems in the court of Emperor Akbar) is celebrated near his Dargah, or tomb, in Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh). Thus, The Temple of Fine Arts’ Thyagaraja-Tansen Music Festival is a first of its kind, combining both celebrations, and will bring together music students, teachers and enthusiasts of both traditions of the Indian Musical Systems of Carnatic and Hindustani Music in Malaysia and across international lines under one roof.

I enjoyed playing a sitar duet with Kalpana Paranjothy, and accompanied by by long time friend and musician, Nawaz Mirajkar of TFA Singapore. We played Yaman Kalyan, a first for me on stage... and it was tremendous fun.  

Also at this festival were the artistes from TFA Penang, M Balakrishnan and Vijayakumar Gopinath ( Carnatic Vocal) and Shri Ravindra Parchure (Hindustani Vocal) from TFA Singapore - all delivered heart rendering performances and impressing the audience over both nights.

It was unfortunate to note that, despite the publicity, the audience was thin on both nights - I sincerely hope that this is due to other unforeseen factors and not due to declining popularity of the Indian Classical Arts as a whole in Malaysia. 

Nevertheless, as a muso, ours is to strive on and on... and this was a thrilling ride!!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Sitar Navaratna, February 2013

2 February 2013; Shivanjali, Coimbatore, India

Sitar Navaratna, or the 'Nine Jewels of Sitar' was the title given to the show we performed in Shivanjali, Coimbatore, to mark the beginning of the sitar classes in TFA Coimbatore under the able tutelage of SM Anand. The show was received very well, and it was great to play with the 'Naad Parivar', or the Naad family, old and young, senior and junior.

The compositions we played were Ibadat - in Rag Bhupali; Tushar - in Rag Bhimpalas; Sandhya - in Rag Purbi; the last two we performed with the Grand Master himself, Ustad Usman Khan on the Dilruba - A Day in the Forest - in Rag Charukeshi and Sufiana - in Rag Bhairavi.
The Sitar 'Navaratna' were - SM Anand, Ruqia Khan Deshmukh, Madhyami Deshmukh, Omkar P, Jeya Jog, Shamala Anandram, Saadan, Shwetha Baskaran, and myself.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013


With Ambassador Paul Jones, Cathy Fink, Marcy Marxer and Barbara Lamb - backstage just before the performance.

What a great energy...great show...and a privilege to play alongside great musicians...

Monday, December 31, 2012

Pune, December 2012

 The Naad family - with Ustad Usman Khan, Mama, Mahesh and Ruqia, Jeya Jog, Omkar and all of us.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Orme Maheswaran Music Scholarship

Navarathri 2012, Shantanand Auditorium, TFA KL.

The Temple of Fine Arts has always been synonymous with raising of the Awareness of the Arts within the community, Arts Outreach,  as well as the pursuit of excellence within the Arts.
With the multifarious performances and concerts that the Temple of Fine Arts engages in every year, society is exposed to latest Artistic works, the multiple disciplines of the Indian Arts, and the myriad of colours and beauty they possess.
With the sharing of resources and the availability of TFA centres in Penang, Malacca and Johor Baru, communities in most parts of peninsular Malaysia have access to these multiple disciplines and artistic forms. 
And in our goal of pursuing Artistic excellence, we have strived to provide teachers and professionals of higher caliber, constantly reviewed our syllabi, and endeavored to increase the overall quality of the Indian Arts in this part of the world. 

From time to time, we have arranged for select individuals, senior students and even teachers to attend intensive courses in India, so as to both increase their specialist training, as well as for them to gain exposure and awareness of the  Indian Arts scene.
To conduct such activities, naturally proves to be expensive and budgeting for such activities places a heavy strain on the ongoing activities of the institution. But yet again, it is the blessings of the Divine Mother of the Arts herself, that time to time, individuals, bodies other organisations come to our aid, and provide assistance and financial relief in their own quiet manner.
One such institution has been the MCEF, or the Malaysian Community and Education Fund. Not only do they offer to the Temple of Fine Arts a general platform in order to give an equity scholarship to all eligible students engaged in continual study here in Malaysia, but they have made possible a mechanism where teachers, and student tutors have been able to pursue intensive courses and further enhance their own Artistic excellence, thus channeling and funneling the latest knowledge and education of the Arts down to all students of TFA.
In the same fashion, TFA launched another scholarship award, meant for the pursuit of Artistic excellence.
The Orme Maheswaran Music Scholarship is aimed at producing performers and teachers in the field of Indian Arts, by creating the opportunity to travel to India and be under the tutelage of a professional Artists and Guru’s a length of time.
The scholarship is named after Shri Orme Maheswaran, the first sitar teacher at the Temple of Fine Arts, Malaysia.

For this year, 2012, the inaugural year of the Orme Maheswaran Scholarship, 3 students have been selected to attend a short intensive course in advanced sitar under the tutelage of Ustad Usman Khan, the dean of Music of The Temple of Fine Arts International, in Pune, India.
The scholarship will cover their  airfares, accommodation, tuition fees, per diems, meals and other expenses, leaving them free to concentrate and gain full benefit f their time with the Master.

These students are Gayathri Sivananthan, from TFA Kuala Lumpur, Suraj Kumar Balusamy and Pravin Raj Premkumar, both of The Temple of Fine Arts Penang.

It is hoped that these students will maximise the benefit of this opportunity by working hard to become professionals in their chosen subject, and to also share their gained knowledge and serve the institution by adding and guiding future students in this field.

We launched the Orme Maheswaran Scholarship Award during the holy festival of Navarathri at the Shantanand Auditorium in TFA, and to present the scholarship to the 3 recepients was the wife of the late Shri Orme Maheswaran, Shrimathi Asha Maheswaran. 

It is hoped that benevolence and goodwill of the family of the late Shri Orme Maheswaran, in making possible this scholarship for students, will inspire more like minded individuals, corporates and institutions to come forward to create further such opportunities for aspiring students of the Arts.

The progress of any society can be easily measured by the state of its Arts, and the advancement of our level of our Malaysian society’s artistic activity is a reflection of how mature and deep our own society is.
I would like to  thank the family of the late Orme Maheswaran, and also the MCEF, for investing in the Arts and in a better future of our society.

And also, my many congratulations to the  3 recipients of the Orme Maheswaran Music Scholarship Award 2012!!!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Malaysia Week, London, UK

 10 October 2012; South Bank, London, United Kingdom

Malaysia Week 2012 - By the Government of Malaysia.

It was nice to be a part of the huge artist group of the Malaysia Week event in London. We were also a part of the Malaysia Night, which took place in Trafalgar Square during the same period.

It was great for me to be back in London after almost 10 years. Funnily enough, we actually went back to Middlesex University campus in Hendon ( sadly not Trent Park any more) for a recording which was a part of my dear friend Isabella Pek's doctoral thesis.

Another highlight was meeting up with my former boss, Gary Malcolm, at his place -we had a nice dinner together with some of his friends.

Another big highlight was meeting up with my dearest friends from Leicester, Ayaz Sheikh and Sanjay (Ketan) Kataria after 26 years!! Ayaz came all the way down from Leicester to meet me, while Ketan stays in Gants Hill..we went over to his place for dinner.

Wow...we were barely teenagers when I saw these two last....look at us now!!!

All in all, a very fulfilling trip.

Monday, October 1, 2012

AkashA delivers spirited performance in Penang

Akasha delivers spirited performance

GEORGE TOWN: IT was a performance that stirred the soul and spirit. Akasha Malaysia or simply Akasha produced another long-awaited performance called The Spirit of Akasha at Wawasan Open University recently.

Jamie Wilson in a musical world of his own.
Jamie Wilson in a musical world of his own.
The musicians, all masters of their individual instruments in their own right, provided music that was infectious.
With Jamie Wilson (composer/guitar), Kumar Karthigesu (sitar), Eric Li (piano/keyboard), Greg Henderson (bass), Sivabalan S. Shanmugam Sundram (mridangam), Vick Ramakrishna (tabla) and Mohd Shah Nizam Azis (percussion), the band captivated the 300-strong audience throughout the two-hour concert with its concept of electrifying world music.
Pulsating music reverberated throughout the concert hall reflecting the different cultures and traditions in their music procured from all over the world.
Fused together the group wowed the audience with their innovative and performances sending the spirits flying in wild abandonment.
Performing close to 20 pieces culled from their two albums -- Into Akasha and Karakoram Highway -- the multi-national group pumped up the decibels with Ants in My Turban, Chasing the Camel, Ipoh Hor Fun, Raagatron Zapin, and the Irish Joget among others.
During the last number, organiser Anne Choon, who incidentally is from Ireland, did an impromptu jig in front of the stage.
"The excellent response from the public and the spontaneous joking between the band members and the audience, laughter and general banter proved the way for a roaring success.
"The audience was definitely having a blast, having fun and cheering for more as the concert wore on," said Choon.
She added that it was the band's second concert performance in Penang in three years and their performance proved their worldwide acclaim as a top-class band was richly deserved.
The band is also a regular act at the annual Rainforest Musical Festival in Penang.
The band, which is based in Kuala Lumpur, proved it had a heart too as the proceeds from the concert were donated to the Klinik Derma Sivasantha, the welfare arm of the Temple of Fine Arts.

AkashA celebrates Merdeka in Penang

AkashA celebrates Merdeka in Penang

Malaysian fusion stars set to take the island by storm
Friday, August 10, 2012 - 16:25
YOU have to speak to organiser Anne Denise Choon about this concert to believe her passion and excitement when she talks of her favourite music subject -AkashA!

“Seven uniquely talented musicians, all masters of their instruments, coming together across all racial and religious barriers to blend the best from all the traditions and cultures Malaysia has to off er,” Choon, a volunteer nurse to palliative care cancer patients, said.

“Their innovative, inspirational and incredible fusion music has captivated audiences worldwide. “The spirit of AkashA is blend of everything good in a Malaysia - race, religion and culture.”

AkashA stars Jamie Wilson (guitar), Kumar Karthigesu (sitar), Eric Li (piano), Greg Henderson (bass), Sivabalan S. Shanmuga Sundram (percussions, mridangam), Vick Ramakrishnan (tabla) and Mohd Shah Nizam Bin Azis (percussions).

“AkashA is a fusion of four cultures — Malay, Indian, Chinese, and Western,” says the group on its website (www.akashamalaysia. com). “From these roots, we explore all corners of the globe with experiments in African, Latin, Celtic, and Cuban jazz, to name a few.

“Our mission is to dazzle, enthrall, delight, and move you; not only about entertaining you, but also about touching your heart in a way that only truly expressive music can.

“One moment we’ll have you whooping with the sheer joy of life, and in the next we’ll have you weeping with the tragic beauty of it.”

Also coming up for this super Malaysian fusion group is its debut in Sri Lanka at the end of this month, when they perform at the inaugural Colombo Music Festival 2012 courtesy of the AirAsia Foundation, and its third appearance at the Johore Baru Arts Festival, to be held, next month.

The internationally recognised, award-winning group has produced two albums on CD, namely Into AkashA and Karakoram Highway, and Choon says they will both will be on sale after the performance at the Wawasan Open University (54, Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah, Penang).

Entrance to the show will be by donations of RM50 and RM100, which will help to sponsor seats for children from the St Nicholas Home for the Blind in Tanjung Bungah, Penang, and the Temple of Fine Arts charity programmes.

Showtime is from 6-8pm on August 31, and early bookings and attendance are encouraged simply because anywhere these guys perform, it’s sellout night! Call Choon at 013 440 6128 for ticket information.

Johor Arts Festival 2012

AkashA in JB

AkashA performing 100th show in 9th JB Arts Fest
AkashA marks 100th show in JB
AkashA, probably one of the most hardworking Malaysian bands, performed their hundredth show on Sept 7, at the 9th Johor Baru Arts Festival.  Fresh from the Colombo Music Arts Festival 2012 with shows from Aug 24 to 26 in Sri Lanka to a Merdeka Day show at Wawasan Open University in Penang, the indefatigable AkashA was unstoppable in Johor Baru for a one-night show jam-packed with fans.  Being back in the JB Arts Fest for the third time says a great deal about the popularity of this all-Malaysian 7-piece band that first took the Rainforest World Music Festival by storm in 2008.

Kumar Kathigesu, the sita man
The fusion music, that is the result of the members’ virtuosity on an eclectic assortment of musical instruments, has since captivated audiences throughout the region. 
In JB, fans rocked, no less enthralled by their brand of music from various cultures with Sivabalan Sundram on mridangam (Indian drums), Kumar Kathigesu on sita, Vicknesh Ramakrishnan on tabla, Greg Henderson on bass guitar, Mohd Shah Nizam Azis on percussion and Eric Li on the keyboard.  While the absence of acoustic guitarist and composer, Jamie Wilson, was conspicuous, fans welcomed his substitute Sallehuddin Arab, who also plays a mean guitar!

AkashA presented an engaging repertoire of original pieces like the Irish Joget and Indian Bossanova and thrilled the audience with an Indian Jazz Zapin piece dedicated to Johor entitled, ‘Zapin for Mariam.’  
Sivabalan Sundrum on mridangam
The raw appeal of AkashA’s brand of fusion music kept the audience in breathless awe and took them to a musical high as the acoustic guitar and sita exchanged impressive riffs and the djembe complemented with an exciting tempo.  At the end of their final piece, the audience was reluctant to release them and cheerfully demanded for an encore – which the band graciously obliged.
After the band took their well-deserved bow, band members met their fans and signed autographs on the CD covers of their music.  While many were loyal fans who were pleased to be at AkashA’s 100th show, there were first-timers who became instant fans and went home happily with signed CDs of AkashA music. 
Tabla man, Vicknesh Ramakrishnan [Right] and Greg Henderson on bass guitar
AkashA taking a bow at the end of their show in JB
Members of AkashA meeting fans and signing autographs
For more info, the calendar of free shows and tickets to shows in the 9th JB Arts Fest (till Sept 29), visit and the JB Arts Festival Facebook page. 

A version of this article was published in The New Straits Times, Johor Streets on 12 September 2012

Colombo Music Festival 2012

Aug 2012, Colombo, Sri Lanka

AkashA played at the Colombo Music Festival 2012.

Malaysia Week, London 2012


Taking place on the South Bank for the first year, following Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge’s visit, Malaysia Week London 2012 is ready to show off Malaysia’s vibrant culture with Malaysian music, fashion, dance, arts, crafts and food. Over the course of four days, visitors will gain a fascinating insight into what Malaysia has to offer with a wide range of attractions, demonstrations and performances.  
Opening on 6 October, there will be free cultural and arts performances, including traditional dances depicting the Malays, Chinese, Indian, Ethnic Sabah and Sarawak cultures, performances of Malaysia contemporary music and stage performances from Istana Budaya’s traditional Malaysian Orchestra. 
In addition, demonstrations, exhibitions and displays of traditional crafted items that can be purchased will take place throughout the festival.  Batik fabric that is synonymous with traditional Malaysian dress and often used as interior decoration will also take centre stage through demonstrations and a fashion show. Six Malaysian artists will be visiting the event to showcase a variety of paintings and artistic sculptures allowing visitors to meet the creators of their favourite pieces and purchase their artwork.
Tastings of Teh Tarik, Roti Canai, Ice Kacang and traditional fruits will be available.  Visitors can also have a go at playing traditional Malaysian games such as Congkak, Batu Seremban and Sepak Bulu Ayam. 
Malaysia Week, London is being held on London’s South Bank and has event days running from 6 -10 October.

For more information, please contact:
Representation Plus
Flo Powell
Tel: 020 8877 4509
Mob: 077 6624 2138
For details of hosted press trips for commissioned media, please contact

Sunday, May 27, 2012

2012 Biodata

Kumar Karthigesu

It was perhaps destined that Kumar was to choose music as his career and ultimate objective in his life. Born to keen music enthusiast parents Dr. R. Karthigesu and Puvaneswari, Kumar began his music education by learning carnatic vocal, mridangam and violin from the early age of six with the blessings and continual encouragement of his spiritual guru, Swami Shantanand Saraswathi.
In 1983, Kumar traveled to Leicester, United Kingdom, while his father underwent his PhD studies, marking the beginning a three year period of education in Soar Valley College. It was ironically here that Kumar got his first taste of learning the sitar, under the able tutelage of Pandit Dharambhir Singh, a disciple of the world renowned Ustad Vilayat Khan. While in the UK, Kumar won the ‘Musician of the Year’ award in 1985 by the London Carnatic Music Circle, as well as ‘National Musician of the Year’ award organized by the Brent Competition UK, and subsequently performed at the highly prestigious Brent Music Festival in London in 1986. He also had several radio and television recordings during this stint in the UK.
Back in Malaysia in 1986, Kumar underwent sitar lessons from Shri Orme Maheswaran of Port Dickson, Malaysia, a disciple of Pandit Ravi Shankar, during his holidays.  In 1988, Kumar had the rare opportunity of performing a solo item at the Opening Ceremony of the World Tamil Conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
It was in 1991 that fate brought him to meet his lifelong guru, Ustad Usman Khan, who had visited The Temple of Fine Arts KL and Penang, for a concert at that time. On an invitation to learn under his tutelage, Kumar, with friends Prakash Kandasamy and Umesh Shetty, set out to Pune, India, to stay and train intensively under Usmanji’ s guidance. Under a modern approach to the ancient Gurukula system of training, Kumar formed an intimate guru – sishya relationship with his Guru, Usmanji, and progressed in his training rapidly.
While in Pune, Kumar also graduated with a Bachelor of Arts (Economics) at the University of Pune. While intensively training under Usmanji, Kumar also performed extensively in India, and participated in several audio recordings of Usmanji’s music. One such memorable concert was performing at the prestigious Pune Festival in 1996, and also being the lead sitarist in the recording of ‘The Taj Mahal’ a soundtrack for a dance drama by The Temple of Fine Arts International, which has since toured and performed in Malaysia, Singapore, India and Sri Lanka.
In 1998, Kumar moved to London, United Kingdom, to pursue a Masters degree in Performing Arts at the Middlesex University. During this three-year period, Kumar performed concerts in various parts of England, Glasgow (Scotland), Cardiff (Wales), and in Gent, Belgium.
Upon the completion of his postgraduate degree, Kumar returned to Malaysia in 2001, and assumed the post as sitar tutor at The Temple of Fine Arts Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Singapore. In 2002, he also joined the University of Malaya as a part time lecturer of Indian Music.
Since making Kuala Lumpur his base in 2001, Kumar’s performing career leaped dramatically and firmly established himself as a known personality in the field of music in the South East Asian region. He has performed extensively throughout Malaysia and Singapore, performing solo as well as being a part of orchestral and fusion concerts. Along with fellow musicians Jyotsna Prakash and Prakash Kandasamy, Kumar was a co-composer and co-arranger of Tryam, a 40 - member Indian based orchestra of The Temple of Fine Arts International, which has since performed in Penang and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and Chennai and Hyderabad, India. In 2002, Kumar, along with Jyotsna, also co-composed and co-arranged the music soundtracks for two highly successful dance dramas by the Temple of Fine Arts, ‘Butterfly Lovers’ and ‘ The Legend of Mahsuri’. Butterfly Lovers toured Penang, Kuala Lumpur, Johor Bahru, Singapore, Australia, Sri Lanka and India, while  ‘The legend of Mahsuri’, produced under the patronage of the Ministry of Culture, Arts and Tourism of Malaysia, premiered at the Istana Budaya (National Theatre), Kuala Lumpur, and subsequently was performed in Langkawi.
Kumar has also recorded for two tracks in popular R & B singer Reshmonu’s album ‘Monumental’, released in 2003.
In 2005, Kumar co-directed ‘inside out’, an exciting production of contemporary dance and music, with fellow artists Jyotsna Prakash, Prakash Kandasamy and Umesh Shetty, under their own label, Inner Space Performing Arts. ‘inside out’ went on to win a whopping 8 awards at the BOH Cameronian Arts Awards in 2006, including for Best Music Direction and Best Group Performance. Following its success, Kumar was invited to serve as a principal artist for the Malaysian Traditional Orchestra, and a  guest artiste for the RTM Orchestra, the National Symphony Orchestra and other such established groups in Malaysia.

His performance record continues to expand, and he frequently travels overseas to perform internationally. He has had performances in Australia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, several cities in India, Cambodia, Thailand, Indonesia, China, Korea, South Africa, UK and the USA. 
His achievements include the release of a CD album entitled Taar Sitara, with Vick Ramakrishnan.  In Feb 2009, Kumar was awarded the coveted Anugerah Seni Negara (Karyawan Seni) by the Government of Malaysia, for his excellence in the Arts and service to the nation. Just recently, in 2012, Kumar was given the title of Tokoh Warisan Negara, or National Living Treasure, by the Heritage Department, Government of Malaysia.
In 2008, Kumar joined a number of fellow musicians to form AkashA, a fusion music outfit which rapidly gained iconic status. AkashA has since performed at several prestigious festivals around the world, and continues to discover new spaces to share its music. AkashA has released two best selling world music albums to date, ‘Into...AkashA’ and ‘Karakoram Highway’, both of which are available at all major retail stores. Kumar remains as the lead sitar player in AkashA. He continues to form new relationships and music partnerships with many leading music practitioners of different genres, always discovering new ground and exploring his musical creativity. In May 2012, Kumar composed a innovative score and performed alongside Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra’s flautist Sonia Croucher at a International Flute Festival in Singapore.
Sharing his art form with fellow Malaysians, Kumar now is a faculty member and tutor at the Temple of Fine Arts in Kuala Lumpur and Penang, and is a part time lecturer in the Malaysian Arts Academy (ASWARA), where he has developed music syllabi and curriculum for both degree and diploma students.
Already a recognized sitar performer and composer by the government and the artistic sector in Malaysia, Kumar continues to grow as a sitar artist, composer, arranger, producer and teacher and gain recognition and respect locally and internationally.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Tokoh Warisan Negara 2012 Award Ceremony

 With the Parents and Dato' Lat...I was a BIG fan of his, from childhood. Unbelievable to be standing on a same stage and receiving an equal award with him!!
 The Certificate...
 The other awardee's and me...
The backbone...My Wife and me...

Tokoh Warisan Negara

Article in the Malaysian Insider

Rais declares 154 sites, objects, individuals as national heritage

May 10, 2012
KUALA LUMPUR, May 10 — Information Communication and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim has declared 154 sites, tangible and intangible objects and distinguished individuals as the country's national heritage.
They comprise 24 sites, 10 tangible objects, 111 intangible objects and nine individuals.
Rais (picture) said the declaration of the national heritage status was a positive move in providing balance to all transformation programmes implemented by the government.
"The ministry views the declaration as a catalyst to fuel our spirit of patriotism and nationalism. It will also boost the spirit of conservation and preservation," he told reporters here today.
At the event, he also presented national heritage certificates to the nine distinguished individuals who had helped nurture national heritage values.
They are Ramli Ibrahim (Indian classical dance, classical ballet and modern dance), Tan Sri Ahmad Othman Merican (music), Mek Jah Deris (Mak Yong), Jati anak Ju (Pua Kumbu), Datuk Mohd Nor Khalid aka Lat (cartoonist), Intan Sulga KK Tiring (Bajau Laut traditional dance), Eyo Hock Seng (Wayang Kulit), Nyonya Tan Abdullah (Dondang Sayang) and Kumaresan Karthigesu (Sitar Music).
Later, the minister flagged off 450 participants of the Heritage Trail programme, comprising students from Selangor and here, who will also visit historical places in the city, including the National Textile Museum and the City Theatre. — Bernama

Saturday, May 12, 2012

AkashA @ La Bodega, Bangsar - 12 May 2012

A truly energetic performance. All of us were on fire, and the crowd loved it. A treat for all of us was guest musicians Ruhil Amani, (Jamie's wife) who joined us to sing a cover of M.Nasir's 'Apokalips', which Jamie himself followed by singing 'Menterah Semerah Padi'. Yes, the Mat Salled can sing in Malay!!!

Another treat, of course, was Sonia Croucher, our now semi permenent flute player from the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra. She played along with us for Ipoh Hor Fun, Ants in my turban, and the finale of Irish Joget - Simply beautiful!!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Heritage award for sitarist Kumar

Article in the New Straits Times, SHOWBIZ, 11 May 2012

NINE well-known artistes, from the arts world, were named National Living Heritage Treasures  yesterday.

One was sitar player 39-year-old Kumar Karthigesu, who was awarded  the Anugerah Karyawan Seni in  2009.

A full-time member of the fusion band AkashA, he has been an integral part of the Indian classical scene with the Temple of Fine Arts since 1986, upon his return from studies in Britain.

With an early music education in carnatic vocal, mridangam and violin, the Penang-born Kumar expanded on that base when he followed his father, Professor R. Karthigesu, to Leicester, in Britain. There, the 11-year-old was in a guitar class in school when the local education ministry introduced Indian music and dance subjects in schools as part of the curriculum. It was then that Kumar got his first taste of learning the sitar, under Pandit Dharambhir Singh, a young but senior disciple of the renowned Ustad Vilayat Khan.

After obtaining his Master’s in Performing Arts from Middlesex University, Kumar returned to Kuala Lumpur and resumed his post as sitar tutor at TFA. Today, he also teaches Indian Music at the University of Malaya, the National Academy of Arts, Culture and Heritage (Aswara) and other institutions.

He has performed in  Southeast Asia, India and elsewhere. His most recent is a performance in Singapore with Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra flautist Sonia Croucher .

Kumar is also the producer of Tryam, a 40-member Indian-based orchestra of TFA International, which has performed in Kuala Lumpur, and India’s Chennai and Hyderabad.

He also composes, having done the soundtracks for two highly successful dance dramas: Butterfly Lovers and The Legend of Mahsuri. The latter, produced under the patronage of the Culture, Arts and Tourism Ministry, premiered at the Istana Budaya, Kuala Lumpur.

The upcoming AkashA album will contain three tracks composed by Kumar. He and the band are due to perform at festivals in Greece, Romania, and London during the Summer Olympics 2012.
“I am grateful for this Living Heritage Treasure award,” says Kumar, “and will work harder to live up to the honour.”

Kumar is also looking to take music to the villages of Malaysia, sponsorship and time permitting. “This won’t be a one-off event. I want it to be sustainable. It is necessary to have music in this world today. It is, I feel, a critical element, through which we seek comfort, and it even helps make us who we are.

“See what happened when 9/11 took place. People didn’t flock to the malls. The first response was to sing, and express their emotions through music.”

He stresses: “Music is important in life, and to life. I feel it is my duty to make people aware of this, through education and exposure. But we lack that platform to take music to outside the cities. We need corporate and government help to do this.”

Other award recipients include  Ramli Ibrahim and Datuk Mohammad Nor Khalid, better known as Lat.

The awards are under the Information, Communication and Culture Ministry. In 2009, other awardees declared Living Heritage Treasures include the late boria king Abu Bakar Jaafar,  the late traditional drum master Tan Hooi Song, bharathanatyam exponent Vatsala Kurup (Shivadas) and music maestro Tan Sri Ahmad Merican.


Read more: Heritage award for sitarist Kumar - Showbiz - New Straits Times


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