Kalpana Venkat, formerly Kalpana
Kishore, is a multi-faceted Carnatic
musician. She is a descendant of the
legendary Chathapuram Sri Subba Iyer, one of
the gurus of the percussion wizard Palghat Sri Mani Iyer.
Her accomplishments, spanning both vocal and
instrumental music, have won her admirers
all over the world.
As a vocalist, Kalpana has performed at
numerous premier institutions since 2001 and
has gained the respect of critics, her peers
and connoiseurs alike. Her rich,
weighty voice is highly suited to producing
the gamakas that are the quintessence of
Carnatic music and her singing has evoked
comparisons with several of the old
masters of Carnatic music.
As a violinist in the Carnatic tradition,
her rich tone and effortless playing have
led to her being widely respected as one of
the best violinists of her generation. While
playing style is steeped in Carnatic
classicism, she has also sought to innovate
outside the realms of Carnatic music in an
effort to showcase her music in a wider
Kalpana began her training at the age of six
under her mother, Seetha Kishore, a vainika.
Kalpana's talent was recognized at a very
young age and she won numerous
prizes and awards as a child artiste.
At an early stage in her musical
development, Kalpana started learning from
Sangeetha Chudamani Smt. T. Rukmini,
renowned for the classicism, refinement,
and aesthetic appeal of her music. Over the
years, Kalpana has played several violin
duet concerts with her guru, Smt Rukmini,
both in India as well as abroad.
Following the footsteps of Smt. Rukmini, a
highly reputed vocalist, Kalpana not only
developed a highly vocal style of violin
playing, but also underwent basic training
In 1999, Kalpana approached the legendary
vocalist, Sri KV Narayanaswamy, for advanced
training in certain krithis that were his
specialty. The encouragement given by
Sri KVN led to her pursuing a career in
Kalpana's guru in vocal music is
Padmabhushan Shri P.S. Narayanaswamy, one of
the greatest teachers in Carnatic music
today, and a torch bearer of the Semmangudi
Srinivasa Iyer school.
Starting with her vocal concerts in the 2001
Music Season, she has performed at numerous
venues in Chennai, Bangalore and around the
United States for the last few
Her singing has won plaudits from critics
and rasikas alike. The Indian Fine Arts
Society named her the "Most Versatile
Vocalist" in 2006.
As a violinist, Kalpana has accompanied
several top ranking senior musicians,
prominent among them are Smt. D. K. Pattamal,
Sri P.S. Narayanaswamy, Dr. M.
Balamuralikrishna, Sri TK Govinda Rao, Sri
B. Rajam Iyer, Dr. N. Ramani and Sri RK
From the current generation of top
musicians, she has accompanied Sri Neyveli
Santhanagopalan, Chitravina Sri Ravikiran,
Smt Nithyasree Mahadevan, Sri Unnikrishnan,
Smt. Sudha Raghunathan, Smt. Sowmya, Smt.
Bombay Jayashri and several others.
She has also had the good fortune of
performing with such percussion wizards as
Prof. Trichy Sankaran, Sri Palghat Raghu and
Sri Guruvayur Dorai.
Kalpana has also performed several
instrumental jugalbandhis, which bring out
the respective highlights of both the
Carnatic and the Hindustani traditions. Both
Chennai and elsewhere, she has performed
numerous well-acclaimed concerts with Sri B.
Sivaramakrishna Rao on the Sitar. She has
also toured France, Switzerland
and the United Kingdom to present
Sitar-Violin concerts. She has also
performed jugalbandhis with other noted
Hindustani musicians, such as the Sitar
Kalpana has also performed Veena-Venu-Violin
concerts with well known musicians, Smt
Revathy Krishna (veena) and Sri TS Sankaran
(flute). She has also given other
concerts in the same instrumental
jugalbandhi class, such as Violin-Nadaswaram
concerts during the December Music Season.
Kalpana was named ‘Sama Gana Priya Sudha’ in
the year 1985 by the Malakottai Vinayaka
Temple in Trichy. She was awarded the ‘Yuva
Kala Bharathi’ in 1993.
The Indian Fine Arts Society (IFAS) named
her The Most Versatile Vocalist during the
2005 December Music Season.
She has won several other awards over the
course of her career, including numerous
awards from The Music Academy, Madras.
Kalpana holds a Masters degree in Carnatic
Music from Madras University. She has also
released numerous cassettes and CDs, vocal
and instrumental, including
“Kalpana’s Swaram”, “Sneham”, “Singing
Strings”, “Sree-nivasa” and “Yakshas”. She
has given performances, interviews and
presented programs on several leading
TV channels in India, including Sun TV, Jaya
TV, Raj TV and Podhigai TV.
Kalpana is an ‘A’ grade artist of All India
Radio and was featured with other leading
young musicians in the Millenium Show in
January 2000 at the Madras Music
Kalpana’s music has taken her to many parts
of the world, apart from numerous tours of
the United States and Canada, she has
travelled to the Middle East, Singapore,
South Africa, France, Switzerland and the
Kalpana is deeply dedicated to sharing her
knowledge with her students, and to ensuring
that they receive training in an authentic
paadantharam (tradition), as she has
from her Gurus. Her institution,
KalpanaSwaram School Of Music has students
all over the Midwest, notably in metro