Tag Archives: violin

Artist Profiles: Claude Chalhoub

Claude Chalhoub – Photo by Jorg Brodstedt

Born in 1974 in Lebanon into a family of musicians, Claude Chalhoub was introduced to the violin by his father who played the rebec. At the age of eight his brother gave him his first violin, and he started to play at home with the family, mostly improvising Arab music. He soon entered the conservatory, but as the war took hold of Lebanon, the conservatory was closed and Claude was forced to continue his studies on his own, discovering most of the technique of the violin by himself. A teacher later told him that he didn’t want to change that technique but refine it, because music is about the sounds and the colors of these sounds, and not about theoretical discussions about harmonies and techniques.

Obviously his self styled technique was good enough to meet high academic standards, because at the age of 18 he was offered the prestigious Queen Elizabeth scholarship which allowed him to continue his studies at the Royal College of Music in London. He studied with professor Grigory Zhisling and Rodney Friend and was introduced to a large repertoire of classical music, not only during his studying hours, but mainly by listening to all the symphonic orchestras he could watch.

Classical music was not the only repertoire he absorbed. In London he was exposed to many different culture. Claude listened to Indian music, African music, and Chinese music. He searched for his own sound. In his 4th year of studies this search led to the first recording session of his own music, Red Desert, combining the sounds of an Indian tabla with those of Arabic improvisation and a string octet.

For his final recital at the conservatory he chose a composition of his own, “Oriental Images”, which turned out to be a huge success. In 1997 he received an award for excellence. His public debut on the stage of St. John?s in London?s Smith Square led to a series of successful European concerts.

In 1999 Claude was invited to Weimar to participate in the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra conducted by Daniel Barenboim. The aim of this West Eastern Divan was to give young musicians from Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon, the Middle East and Germany the opportunity to study and play music together. Barenboim selected Claude to be the musical director of the orchestra. During one of the chamber concerts, Claude attracted so much attention for his improvisational music that he was signed to record his first album. In the summer of 2000 he started to work with producer and guitarist Michael Brook in the Sound Factory in Los Angeles. At he same time he was invited to participate in Yo Yo Ma’s Silk Road project in Tanglewood (USA). The self-titled album, Claude Chalhoub features Pakistani singer Forroukh Fateh Ali Khan, the brother of the legendary Nusrat. It was released in the spring of 2001 in the USA and Germany, England, France, Italy and other territories followed in 2002/2003.

In 2003 Claude also started touring with his own quartet and plays concerts in several German cities, France and Italy . The Traumzeitfestival in Duisburg, Germany commissioned him to write music for a group specially gathered for this festival. The premiere in Duisburg featuring the Indigo string octett, Trilok Gurtu on tabla , Gilad Atzmon on clarinet and saxophone plus Claude?s band was received with standing ovations.

For his performance at the prestigious WOMAD Festival in Rivermead, UK, Claude invited another outstanding musician to join his band: Indian flute virtuoso Ronu Majumdar.

Claude has composed soundtrack for several films: ?Hollywood Buddah?, ?Persona non grata? (Oliver Stone’s documentary on the Middle East conflict.) He also continues to teach at the conservatory in Beirut.


Claude Chalhoub (Teldec Classics, 2001)
Diwan (Herzog Records, 2008)


Delightful Scottish Fiddle Inspired by Short Stories

Aidan O’Rourke with Kit Downes – 365: Volume 1 (Reveal Records, 2018)

365: Volume 1 is a truly exquisite double album of instrumental music composed by Scottish fiddler Aidan O’Rourke. He’s joined by Kit Downes on piano and harmonium.

365: Volume 1 was inspired by the short stories of James Robertson, one of Aidan O’Rourke’s favorite Scottish authors. Robertson wrote a short story each day for a year, and every story had exactly 365 words. Aidan O’Rourke decided to do something similar and composed a tune every day for 1 year, each one connected to a story from James’s collection.

Although the plan is to record all 365 tunes, 365: Volume 1 features the first set of highlights. The musicianship is superb. The wonderful music is rooted in Scottish folk music tradition, although Aidan O’Rourke goes beyond, incorporating classical and jazz elements.

The nicely-packaged two CD set includes a booklet with all the stories that inspired the recordings and the date they were composed.

Aidan O’Rourke is the founder and fiddler of acclaimed Scottish band Lau. His other solo albums include Sirius (2006), An Tobar (2008) and Hotline (2013). The Lau albums are Lightweights and Gentlemen (2007), Live (2008), Arc Light (2009), Race the Loser (2012), and The Bell That Never Rang (2015).

365: Volume 1 is an impeccable contemporary Scottish folk music album featuring exceptionally expressive violin performances.

Buy 365: Volume 1


Artist Profiles: Sephira


Sephira is comprised of two classically trained Irish musicians who have forged their own musical niche combining classical music and Irish traditional music: Joyce O’Leary (vocals/violin) and Ruth O’Leary.

Their unique sound can be compared to the emotional swells of a movie – sensational, dramatic, and filled with the full sweep of human passions.

Their debut album Believe was released in 2006 to critical acclaim.


Believe (Cicero Records, 2006)
Sephira (Cicero Records, 2008)
Starlight (Cicero Records, 2011)
Eternity (Cicero Records, 2013)


Artist Profiles: Harikumar Sivan

Harikumar Sivan

Harikumar Sivan (formerly S. Harikumar) was born in 1980. He is an A grade violinist of All India Radio since the age of 16. Harikumar is a native Kerala and now works in Delhi.

Harikumar is a disciple of violin master Dr, L Subramaniam. He has worked with great musicians such as Pandit Kishan Mehraj, Anindo Chatterjee, T N Sesha Gopalan, and others. He has a deep knowledge of Hindustani and Carnatic music as well as western music.

His musical style is what is known as New Indian Classical Music which contains both Carnatic and Hindustani elements. For example one Carnatic Keerthanam (Ambavani Rag Keervani ) in the Hindustani style of improvisation, creating what he calls “New Indian Music”


Artist Profiles: Sisirkana Chowdhury

Sisirkana Chowdhury

Dr. Sisirkana Chowdhury is known as a distinguished violinist throughout India and abroad. She had her first lesson on the violin from Ustad Moti Mian when she was seven years old. Later she received systematic training from the famous violinist Padma Bhushan Pandit V.G. Jog.

Impressed by her talent, Maestro Ali Akbar Khan accepted her as his pupil in 1956. She also had the occasion to come in touch with the scholar-musician Acharya T. L. Rana and enrich her theoretical knowledge of the different aspects of Hindustani classical music.

Sisirkana has had a distinguished career as Dean of Music at Rabindra Bharati University in Calcutta.

Currently she is a visiting professor at the Ali Akbar College of Music in San Rafael, California.


Sisirkana Dhar Choudhury (His Master’s Voice, 1974)


Artist Profiles: L. Athira Krishna

L. Athira Krishna

Athira is an extraordinarily gifted virtuoso violinist, singer, and composer. She has been touring all over the world from the age of 12 as an accomplished Indian classical solo violinist.

Born in Kerala, Athira spent her beginnings studying within one of south India’s most acclaimed musical families. Her initial training began with her father, a celebrated singer and veena player who has won many awards as a classical star.

Her father began teaching Athira from the time she was a baby. Between the coaching from her father and her renowned legendary grandfather [eminent classical musician of south India] and her extensive training in classical Indian vocal, violin, western classical music, world music, Athira has developed a musical style all her own, which encompasses all these diverse genres.

She was honored by the prestigious India government’s “President’s National Balasree Honour” for “the best outstanding creative child musician of India”.

Honored with the title of “The Musical Gem of India” by the former first lady of India, Usha Narayanan after hearing her concert at the Rashtrapathi Bhavan [the official residence of the president of India].

She has performed extensively in numerous international music festivals held in Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Germany, Bahrain, Singapore, Middle East, Kazakhstan, etc.

Athira was also honored by the Guinness book of world records for her unique 32 hour-long non-stop violin concert dedicated to global peace and harmony.


Artist Profiles: Kala Ramnath

Kala Ramnath

Kala Ramnath is one of the finest violin players in indie. She was born into a family of great musical talent, which has given Indian music violin legends such as Prof. T.N. Krishnan and Dr. N. Rajam. Kala’s skill with the violin manifested itself from childhood under the watchful tutelage of her grandfather Vidwan Narayan Iyer. At the same time, she received training from her aunt Dr. Smt. N. Rajam. For many years, Kala’s musical talent has been nurtured and enriched by Mewati vocal maestro, Pandit Jasraj.

Absorbing all these influences Kala has successfully developed a style of playing that is truly unique, and has played a huge part in bringing violin into the mainstream of Indian classical music


Singing Violin (Neelam Audio & Video, 1997)
Gifted Violinist (Biswas Records, 2000)
Touching Air (Sense World Music, 2002)
Kala (Sense World Music, 2005)
Nectar (Sense World Music, 2006)
Drive East (Sense World Music, 2006)
The Divine Wheel (Sense World Music, 2008)
Samaya (Sense World Music, 2008)
Elements (Earth Brother Music, 2011)


Artist Profiles: Dr. L. Subramaniam

Dr. L. Subramaniam

Dr. L. Subramaniam is India’s violin icon. He has recorded, played and composed a substantial variety of music including Karnatic (south Indian), Western classical, jazz, world fusion and world music. Dr. L. Subramaniam has collaborated with a wide range of artists including Yehudi Menuhin, Stephane Grappelli, Jean-Pierre Rampal, Herbie Hancock, Larry Coryell and Ravi Coltrane.

Lakshminarayan Subramaniam was born July 23, 1947 in Madras, India. His career as a childhood prodigy brought him into contact with the greatest musicians and he soon imposed himself as a master of the violin. At a very young age, he was honored with the title Violin Chakravarthy (emperor of the violin). Very few musicians can boast of such diverse repertoire and collaborations, or even such mind-boggling techniques. Till date, Dr. Subramaniam has produced, performed, collaborated, conducted and released over 150 recordings.

Dr. L. Subramaniam is the only musician who has performed/recorded Karnatic Classical Music, Western Classical Music, both orchestral and non-orchestral, and also composed for and conducted major orchestras, collaborated with a wide range of some of the greatest musicians, from different genres of music including jazz, occidental, jugalbandis with North Indian musicians, world music and global fusion. He has established himself as a force that is strongly Indian, but universal in nature and approach.

His insatiable musical curiosity made short shrift of all kinds of technique, of all types of form (he has composed for several western classical orchestras and ballets) and of all new experiences (he was a musical advisor to Peter Brook about the sound concepts for his Mahabharata). He has composed music for a select few films, including Salaam Bombay! and Mississippi Masala and was the featured soloist for Bernardo Bertolucci’s Little Buddha and Cotton Mary of Merchant Ivory Productions). This total receptivity towards the world, this polymorphous talent, this technical mastery all however find their truest experience in the service of Karnatic music, the tradition he has inherited from his father and guru, Professor V. Lakshminarayana. Dr. L. Subramaniam’s parents Prof V. Lakshminaryana and V. Seethalakshmi were the driving force behind their son and the reason he chose a life in music.

Passionate about music, Subramaniam was also dedicated to Science. He studied medicine, finishing his M.B.B.S at Madras Medical College and registered as a general practitioner. Subsequently he did his Master’s Degree in Western Classical Music in California and he finally decided to dedicate his life to music. From then on, his artistic activity was to spread in many directions.

Attracted by his unusual musical phrasing, several western musicians wanted to play with him. He willingly lent himself to these exchanges, which represented for him a no-man’s land, which allowed him to explore the field of improvisation. In this atmosphere of live exchanges, the musical differences and similarities became obvious to him and from then on they organized themselves brilliantly. Since 1973, Subramaniam has made historic collaborations and recordings with people like Yehudi Menuhin, Stephane Grappelli, Jean-Pierre Rampal, Steven Seagal, Ruggiero Ricci, Arve Tellefsen, Herbie Hancock, Joe Sample, Stanley Clarke, George Duke, Al Jarreau, Jean Luc Ponty, Earl Klugh, Larry Corryel, Corky Seagal , Tony Williams, Billy Cobham, John Surman, Maynard Ferguson and Ravi Coltrane.

Today, he is the founder/director of the Lakshminarayana Global Music Festival, the biggest global music festival in India, in which this spirit of encounter, which he has always enjoyed, is strongly expressed. The Festival has brought some of the greatest artists from around the globe together on one stage. It is held annually, primarily in India, but has also been held in different parts of the world.

Not only is he considered the most outstanding Indian Classical violinist, but also an exceptional composer who has established himself as the foremost Indian composer in the realm of orchestral composition. In 1983, he crossed other frontiers, that of western classical tradition. The Double Concerto for violin and flute combines western scales and micro intervals. Spring Rhapsody is a homage to Bach and Baroque music. Over the years he has written and created works for the worlds greatest orchestras: The New York Philharmonic Orchestra and Zubin Mehta (Fantasy on Vedic Chants), the Swiss Romande Orchestra (Turbulence); The Kirov Ballet (Shanti Priya) The Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra (The Concerto for Two Violins); The Berlin Opera (Global Symphony), the live concert of which was broadcast simultaneously over 28 nations for millions of people. His latest orchestral composition is entitled Astral Symphony for full symphony orchestra and soloists from different musical traditions, once again emphasizing the concept of Global Fusion.

His compositions have also been used in various stage presentations by leading ballet companies, including the Cleveland San Jose Ballet Company and the Alvin Ailey Company.

To increase understanding of the concepts of South Indian Classical Music, he released a four-CD set, called Anthology of South Indian Classical Music and written an authoritative book Euphony, which was co-authored with his late wife Vijayashree Subramaniam.

He has received several awards and honors, including the coveted Padma Bhushan and Sangeet Natak Akademi Award for The Most Creative Artist from the President of India. He has been awarded the Nada Chakravarti (Emperor of Sound) from H.H Sri Ganapati Sachchidananda Swami-ji at Trinidad (West Indies). In recognition of his contribution to the World of Music, he has been conferred with Honorary Doctorate (D.Lit) by both Bangalore University and University of Madras.

To commemorate 100 years of the Nobel Peace Prize, an album has been released bringing together the best from music and excerpts from speeches of Nobel laureates. For this project featuring artists from all around the world, Dr. Subramaniam and Kavita Krishnamurti Subramaniam were chosen to represent the Asian continent. They also performed at the re-opening of Bibliotheca Alexandria in Egypt which was attended by President and Mrs. Mubarak of Egypt, President and Mrs. Chirac of France, Queen Noor of Jordan, the Queen of Spain and Queen Sophie of Belgium among other Heads of States, Dignitaries and Nobel Laureates

His album titled Global Fusion was a critically acclaimed milestone and features artists from five continents including one of the most popular and successful singers in the film industry, Kavita Krishnamurti (whom Dr. L Subramaniam married in November 1999), and his talented and versatile daughter Seetaa Subramaniam.

In 2000 Dr. L. Subramaniam was in China for a concert tour, which coincided with the official visit of the President of India to commemorate fifty years of Indo-Chinese relations. Indian President K.R. Narayanan and Chinese President Jiang Zemen attended this historical performance with the Beijing Symphony Orchestra in Beijing. He gave a special performance for Prince Charles during the latter’s visit to India in 2004 along with Kavita and Seetaa.

Dr. Subramaniam composed and performed the special Olympic Torch Theme Song, celebrating the arrival of the Olympic Torch to India for the first time. Dr. Subramaniam, Kavita Krishnamurti and Seetaa Subramaniam released an album titled Athens, featuring the Olympic Torch Theme Song with lyrics by Gulzar.

In 2004 he completed a world tour of the Lakshminarayana Global Music Festival including concerts in the USA (Lincoln Center, New York) and the Asia Pacific Region (Perth, Australia, Esplanade in Singapore, Sri Dewan Penang Hall, Penang, and Putra Jaya World Trade Centre in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia).

The album Conversations and his orchestral composition Fantasy on Vedic Chants have become milestones and serves as a reference and guide for any composer exploring the concept of fusion.

I find nothing more inspiring than the music making of my very great colleague Subramaniam. Each time I listen to him, I am carried away in wonderment,” said Yehudi Menuhin.


Enchanting Melodies on the Violin, with Palghat Mani Iyer (1977)
Garland, with Svend Asmussen (1978) (Storyville, 1978)
Fantasy without Limits (Trend Records) (1979)
Subramaniam (1980)
Rainbow (1980)
Indian Classical Music (1980)
Le violon de l’Inde du Sud (Ocora, 1980)
Ragam, Tanam, Pallavi / The Virtuoso Violin of South India: Subramaniam (Lyrichord, 1981)
Blossom, with Herbie Hancock and Larry Coryell (Crusaders, 1981)
South Indian Strings (Lyrichord, 1981)
Spanish Wave (Milestone, 1983)
Indian Express (Milestone, 1984)
The Irresistible Dr L. Subramanium (Oriental, 1985)
Distant Visions (Audiorec, 1985)
Magic Fingers (1986)
Mani & Co. (Milestone, 1986)
East Meets West (1987)
An Anthology of South Indian Classical Music (Ocora, 1990)
Indian Classical Masters: Raga Hemavati (Nimbus Records, 1990)
Kalyani (Water Lily Acoustics, 1990)
Expressions of Impressions (Sonic Atmospheres, 1991)
Indian Classcial Masters: Three Ragas for Solo Violin (Nimbus Records, 1991)
Sarasvati (Water Lily Acoustics, 1991)
Musical Heritage of South India (1992)
Conversations (Milestone, 1992)
Beyond (New Earth Records, 1993)
Samarpanam (1993)
Masters of Raga (Wergo, 1995)
Pacific Rendezvous (Manu Music Productions, 1995)
Electric Modes Volumes 1 & 2 (Water Lily Acoustics, 1995)
Matchless (1999)
Global Fusion (Warner, 1999)
Free your Mind, with Larry Coryell (Iris Musique, 2002)
Asmita (Viji, 2004)
Maestro’s Choice (Music Today, 2004)
My Golden Years (Music Today, 2004)
Best of L. Subramaniam (Niranjani Music, 2004)
The Violin Legends, with Yehudi Menuhin and Stéphane Grappelli (2004)
Violin Maestros (2007)
Innovations (EMI, 2012)


Artist Profiles: Ambi Subramaniam

Ambi Subramaniam

Ambi Subramaniam was born August 5, 1991 in Los Angeles, California, the son of violin maestro L. Subramaniam.

Ambi gave his first performance at the age of seven and has already performed in India and abroad. He was part of a special performance at the Gateway of India in 2003, featuring the violin greats L. Subramaniam and Jean Luc Ponty.

Ambi plays Western and Karnatic violin with equal ease. Ambi accompanies his father for Karnatic concerts including a concert at the prestigious Dussehra Festival at the Mysore Palace and during the Centenary Celebration of the Banglaore Gayana Samaj.


Violin Virtuoso (Navras, 2008)
Live at Neues Gewandhaus Germany (2009)
Violin Maestros (2009)
Visions of India (2010)
Violins for Peace (2010)
Global Symphony (2011)
Aadi Ganesh (2012)
Indian Violin (Viji Records, 2012)
Global Traditions (2013)
SaPa Baby Vol. I, II, III (2014)
Just Playing (Viji Records, 2016)
Live at Krishna Gana Sabha (Viji Records, 2017)
You Were There, with SubraMania (2017)
Bhajans for Kids (Viji Records, , 2017)

– featured soloist


Masterful String Intensity by Kittel & Co.

Kittel & Co. – Whorls (Compass Records, 2018)

Whorls is the debut album of a superb string band led by fiddler Jeremy Kittel, who was a member of the renowned Turtle Island Quartet. The ensemble features 5 talented musicians who deliver an exquisite mix of American and Celtic roots music, jazz and classical music.

The majority of the tracks on Whorls are instrumental, showcasing the instrumentalists’ virtuosity, improvisatory skills and melodic creativity. Mesmerizing vocals are featured on two tracks, provided by Kittel and Sarah Jarosz, who adds spellbinding ethereal harmonies.

The lineup on Whorls includes Jeremy Kittel on violin, viola and vocals; Josh Pinkham on mandolin; Quinn Bachand on guitar; Nathaniel Smith on cello and organ; and Simon Chrisman on hammered-dulcimer. Guest: Sarah Jarosz on vocals.

Whorls is a masterfully-crafted with stellar violin, cello, mandolin, guitar and hammered dulcimer performances.

Buy Whorls