Murasu-Symphonic work premiers at World Tamil Conference

In what was described by FETNA’s past president Mr Naanjil Peter as a mega event that literally shook the World Tamil Conference, the ‘Murasu - Tamil Symphony’ composed and directed by visionary composer Dr Kanniks Kannikeswaran brought a 4000+ strong audience to their feet in a thundering standing ovation at the recently concluded ‘Mupperum Vizha’ featuring the 32nd FETNA Annual Convention, 10th World Tamil Conference and 50th Anniversary celebration of the founding of Chicago Tamil Sangam in Schaumburg, IL from July 4-7, 2019.

Composer Kanniks Kannikeswaran was approached back in November last year to create a Symphonic Production that would be a fitting tribute to the mega convention.

‘The research started in December 2018 and continued, as I wrote the script, curated the lyrics and created the score’, says Kanniks. ‘Murasu is an ensemble presentation of verses covering Tamil literary works from the ancient Tolkappiyam, through Sangam Literature, Silappathikaram, Tirukkural, Tirumandiram, Tevaram, Nachiyar Tirumozhi, Kutralakkuravanji, Kalingattupparani and more, all sung in a choral arrangement in various ragas, with symphonic orchestration, all choreographed to multi-genre dances from Tamilnadu’

A team of six coordinators did the ground work in Chicago and recruited singers and dancers who would bring the score to life. In its final form on stage, Murasu featured about 80 adult singers, 35 young singers, a 25 member orchestra of strings, woodwinds, brass and percussion along with an ensemble of Indian instruments and a group of about 60 dancers and several drummers on the traditional ‘parai’ drums.

Extensive research has gone into the making of the production and the production was hailed unanimously for its erudition by all scholar’s present.

In the words of the well-respected Tamil Scholar Solomon Pappaiah, who was in the audience, ‘ Kanniks has accomplished something that no one has ever done before. He has skillfully set to music age old poems from the Tolkappiyam , the Sangam period and later periods in a manner that makes the lyrics accessible to one and all. In creating this piece, Kanniks has done yeoman service to the language Tamil for which he needs to be lauded. I am convinced that this production will create an awakening. It is my wish that he takes this to various parts of the world and spreads the message in all its glory.’. Mr Solomon Pappaiah added that the Andal Paasuram ‘Karpooram Naarumo’ rendered by Vidita Kanniks had an exhilarating impact on the audience.

It was the feel of many that the erudition of the production held the scholars in its grip, while the appeal of the music held all of the 4000+ in the audience spellbound throughout the duration of the performance.

Murasu creates history. This is the first of its kind production ever where verses from the Sangam era have been presented in a symphonic setting with choral and orchestral harmony. It is a first of its kind multicultural concert performed in the Chicago area.

Mr Ma Foi K. Pandiarajan, Honorable Minister for Culture and Tamil, Tamilnadu described the production as a ‘Deeply Spiritual Experience’. Mr Sundar Kuppuswamy, the President of FETNA was overwhelmed by the success of the production and described his exhilaration upon seeing verses from ancient works such as Puranaanooru, and Tirugnanasambandar Tevaram come to life in a manner that the audience could relate to.

The success of Murasu was the talk of the conference for the next three days; Honorable Minister Mr Pandiarajan highlighted Murasu in his inaugural speech at the Conference, while the President of the International Association for Tamil Research Prof T. Marimuthu stated in his concluding speech that every attendee of the conference took a slice of Murasu back with them when they left Chicago. Steps are afoot to get Kanniks to have Murasu performed in places such as Toronto, Kualalumpur and London UK and more importantly - Chennai and various other places in Tamilnadu.

The 4 day convention drew attendees and volunteers from around the world in record numbers; the Schaumburg Convention Center played host to scores of scholars who presented papers at the conference. Dignitaries from the State Government of Tamilnadu, India graced the Conference as well as the Global Tamil Entrepreneurs Network (GTen) that was held concurrently at the same venue. Several cultural events, parades, exhibits, research presentations held audiences spellbound for the entire weekend.

This is Composer Kanniks Kannikeswaran’s 25th year of Indian American Choral music. His oratorio, ‘Shanti - A Journey of Peace’ had won praise from writers such as Sujatha and has been instrumental in the blossoming of Indian community choirs in several places in the United states. Kanniks is a recent recipient of a Distinguished Alumnus Award from IIT Madras and he is hailed as a pioneer of the Indian American Choral movement.

For more information regarding Murasu and the possibility of hosting it in your area, please contact kanniks@gmail.com (001-513-226-0676) or Priya at anand.sripriya@gmail.com .




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