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Innova Releases Indian Music CDs

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November 2010
Innova Releases Indian Music CDs Innova Recordings promotes, as the label puts it, “forward-looking (-hearing?) work that pushes and challenges the boundaries of contemporary music.” The innovation doesn’t stop there. The composer/performer and the company collaborate on an equal footing, with the artist bearing the financial risk. Yet it’s more complicated than a self-publishing model, because Innova—a nonprofit label—is selective and works closely with artists, sharing its business and musical expertise to bring out professionally slick albums.

Two recent examples: Into the Raga and Quiet Forest, Flowing Stream.

The first CD features Nirmala Rajasekar (veena), Raghavendra Rao (violin), Tanjore Murugaboopathi (mridangam) and V. Suresh (ghatam). Its longest track, ‘Ananda Nadamaduvar,’ celebrates the dance of Shiva while the other pieces range from a Carnatic composition (‘Jaya Jaya’) based on a 14th-century South Indian work, to a Hindustani composition (‘Mayi Re Mei Tho Liyo’), inspired by one of Mirabai’s poems. The 10-track album ends with a thrilling ‘Thillana.’

A recipient of the Bush Artist Fellowship and the McKnight Fellowship for Performing Artists, Rajasekar has performed widely for three decades. She also plays the veena on the second CD, Quiet Forest, Flowing Stream, which is a cross-cultural project featuring the works of Gao Hong, who plays the pipa. Rajasekar provides vocals for some of the pieces, and instrumental support comes from Joseph Schad (piano), Shubhendra Rao (sitar), Biplab Bhattacharya (tabla), Michelle Kinney (cello), Kenny Endo (taiko) and David Hagedorn (percussion). Hong’s younger daughter, who had battled and overcome leukemia, inspired the compositions, and the album was made in her honor.

Hong “draws from the fretted, four-string instrument an aural tapestry of delicate and reflective moods that arc from fanciful musings to tempestuous torment,” according to Pulse magazine.

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