Meet the Founders

T.M. Krishna

As a vocalist in the Karnatik tradition, Thodur Madabusi Krishna's musicality eludes standard analyses. Uncommon in his rendition of music and original in his interpretation of it, Krishna is at once strong and subtle, manifestly traditional and stunningly innovative.

As a public intellectual, Krishna speaks and writes about issues affecting the human condition and about matters cultural. Krishna has started and is involved in many organizations whose work is spread across the whole spectrum of music and culture. He has co-authored Voices Within: Carnatic Music - Passing on an Inheritance, a book dedicated to the greats of Karnatik music. His path-breaking book A Southern Music - The Karnatik Story, published by Harper Collins in 2013 was a first-of-its-kind philosophical, aesthetic and socio-political exploration of Karnatik Music. For this he was awarded the 2014 Tata Literature Award for Best First Book in the non-fiction category. His long-form essay MS Understood, for The Caravan was featured in The Caravan Book of Profiles, as one of their "twelve definitive profiles." It has been translated into Tamil and published as a book 'Katrinile Karainda Tuyar' by Kalachuvadu Publications. His book 'Reshaping Art' published by Aleph Book Company in 2018, asks important questions about how art is made, performed and disseminated and addresses crucial issues of caste, class and gender within society while exploring the contours of democracy, culture and learning.

He is the driving force behind the Chennai Kalai Theru Vizha (formerly Urur Olcott Kuppam Vizha) and the Svanubhava initiative. He has been part of inspiring collaborations, such as the Chennai Poromboke Paadal with environmentalist Nityanand Jayaraman, performances with the Jogappas (transgender musicians) and co-conceptualising and performing Karnatic Kattaikuttu, an unusual aesthetic conversation between art forms and communities that belong to two ends of the social spectrum. His musico-poetic partnership with India's leading contemporary Tamil writer Perumal Murugan, is unprecedented. Rarely has a poet and a musician who are contemporaries collaborated to bring out works of art on the classical stage.

In 2016, Krishna received the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay Award in recognition of 'his forceful commitment as artist and advocate to art's power to heal India's deep social divisions'. In 2017 he received the Indira Gandhi Award for National Integration Award for his services in promoting and preserving national integration in the country. In 2017, he has also received the Professor V Aravindakshan Memorial Award for connecting Carnatic music with the common man.

His forthcoming book Sebastian and Sons traces the history of the mridangam-maker and the mridangam over the past 100 years.

R.K. Shriramkumar

R K Shriramkumar belongs to a family of eminent Carnatic musicians who hail from Rudrapatna, a little village on the banks of the river Kaveri in Karnataka, South India. His grandfather Vidvan Shri R K Venkatarama Shastry, a veteran violinist, was one of the most respected musicians of the music fraternity. His grand uncles Vidvan R K Narayanaswamy, Vidvan R K Ramanathan, Vidvan R K Srikantan, his uncles the 'Rudrapatnam Brothers', Vidvans R N Thyagarajan & R N Tharanathan,Vidvan R S Ramakanth, his aunts Vidushi Ratnamala Prakash and Vidushi R N Srilatha are all musicians of great repute.

Having had his initial lessons in violin playing from Vidushi Smt Savitri Satyamurthy, Shriramkumar was trained in vocal music and violin by his grandfather Shri R K Venkatarama Shastry. He later received guidance in violin from Vidvan Shri V V Subrahmanyam and in vocal music from Vidvan Shri D K Jayaraman. Born in Chennai on 4th October 1966 to Smt Kusuma Krishnamurthy and Shri R V Krishnamurthy, Shriramkumar began his concert career in 1981, performing his debut concert with Vidvan N. Vijay Siva on the auspicious day of Shankara Jayanti, and has since carved a niche for himself gaining much proficiency, acclaim, stature and popularity amongst musicians and music lovers alike. His skills were further honed through the association and learning he gained by accompanying the doyens of Carnatic music like Vidvan Shri Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer, Vidushi Smt. M S Subbulakshmi, Vidushi Smt. D K Pattammal, Vidvan Shri D K Jayaraman, Vidvan Shri Palghat K V Narayanaswamy, Vidushi Smt. T Brinda and Vidushi Smt. T Mukta, and others.

He has also given many solo violin concerts and reached a high level of proficiency and stature at a very young age. He has toured North America and many other countries in Asia, Europe and Australia and has provided violin accompaniment and released solo recitals on various pre-recorded and live recordings. Shriramkumar has received many awards and prizes from premier institutions such as The Music Academy, Madras and continues to serve Carnatic music through teaching and giving lecture/demonstrations in various subjects that he has researched immensely.

Meet our Advisors