Kalpana Venkat

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 her 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 context.

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, sensitivity 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 vocal music.

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 vocal music.

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 years.

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 Srikantan.

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 in 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 vidwan Shri Sudhir Phadke.

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 Academy.

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 United Kingdom.

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 Detroit.

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