About Jayanthi Kumaresh

With her mesmerizing glides, the timing and purity of her notes and her soulful playing, Dr. Jayanthi Kumaresh has been captivating audiences around the world for 30 years now and is one of the leading Veena artistes today. A sixth generation musician, she began playing the Veena since age of 3 and is one of the youngest veena artistes to receive the A-TOP grading, the highest from All India Radio.

Apart from several prestigious venues and festivals in India such as Sawai Gandharva Mahotsav, Gwalior Music Festival, Chennai Music Festival, Jayanthi has performed at several international festivals such as San Francisco Jazz Festival, Darbar festival, Queensland Music Festival, Darwin Music Festival, Adelaide Music Festival and at prestigious venues such as U.N, New York, Palladium, Indiana, Theatre de la Ville, Paris, Northwest folklife festival, Seattle.

She has received many awards in India including “Sangeetha Choodamani”, “Kalaimamani” by the Government of Tamil Nadu, “Veena Naada Mani”, “Kala Ratna”, “Sathyashree”, “Gaana Varidhi”, is a seven-time recipient of The Music Academy, Chennai’s “Award for Veena” to name a few.

A collaborator, she has performed with legends such as tabla Ustad Zakir Hussain, Violin Maestro Shri. R. Kuamaresh, Flautist Ronu Majumdar and the like.

A pioneer, she founded the Indian National Orchestra, where 21 musicians playing different Indian instruments come together under one banner to showcase Indian classical music.

A researcher, she holds a Doctorate for her work on “styles and playing techniques of the Saraswati Veena” and conducts workshops and lecture demonstrations around the world.

A composer, she has scored music for several dance productions and musicals. Her music for the dance ballet Krishna Bhakthi for Rasika, Portland featured both the Carnatic and Hindustani styles of compositions.

She composed and released the album “Mysterious Duality” which is a multi-dimensional reflection of the simple yet complex self – through a single instrument, the Veena. The artist has overlaid layers of several Veena recordings to create symphonic compositions.

Jayanthi has recorded for world renowned Labels such as Times Music, Music Today, Sa re ga ma, Sense World and Home Records.

The niece of Violin Legend Sri Lalgudi Jayaraman, Jayanthi attributes what she is today to her maternal aunt and guru, Smt.Padmavathy Ananthagopalan, whose training helped Jayanthi evolve as an artiste. Her mother Smt. Lalgudi Rajalakshmi first introduced her to music and she is also fortunate to have trained later under Veena Virtuoso Dr. S. Balachander.

Blending the traditional and the innovative in her music in terms of content, technique, virtuosity and expression, Jayanthi seeks to express the true voice of the veena, which transcends the boundaries of language and region.

In Detail

The artiste, the collaborator, composer, researcher, pioneer, educator – meet Dr. Jayanthi Kumaresh!
Early Years

Young JK-B&W

With music in her genes and music all around her, young Jayanthi took to playing the veena at the age of 3. Her mother, violinist Lalgudi.Smt. R. Rajalakshmi initiated her into music. Amidst a family of violinists, she chose a different path – to become a Vainika, a veena player. Her single minded focus to master this instrument made her leave home and go live with her aunt and guru. Smt. Padmavathy Ananthagopalan at the age of 13. Growing up, Jayanthi’s days were packed with practice, training and more practice with schooling in between. During her learning days, every evening’s schedule was to play in front of an imaginary audience and errors would be noted down, so she can revisit those after dinner. Her Great Guru, Smt. Padmavathy Ananthagopalan, is a great task master and disciplinarian. Under her tutelage, Jayanthi was able to understand and imbibe the true essence of veena and music which the “gurukulam” style of learning offers (staying with your guru throughout your learning years). It was a rigorous training focusing on content, technique, grammar and expression.

Soon Jayanthi got an opportunity to receive guidance under the Veena Virtuoso Dr. S.Balachander. Guru Smt. Padmavathy Anathagopalan greatly revered his playing style and music and was very happy when Jayanthi was blessed with this opportunity.

Jayanthi learned to emote better with the veena and fine-tuned her technical sophistication under Dr.S.Balachander’s guidance. Embellishing her playing techniques and exploring the horizons of a raga were more on the lesson plan than learning new compositions. The genius that Dr. S. Balachander was, he helped her discover the nuances and beauty of the veena without ever expecting her to follow his style. This led Jayanthi on a path to evolve her own unique playing style – her own identity.

She is one of the privileged few to have performed with him on stage. He made her realize that if something cannot be played on the veena, it’s only the limitation of the player and not the instrument.

Jayanthi started performing at the age of 15. She performed along with her Guru Smt. Padmavathy Ananthagopalan and she also gave many solo recitals.

She teamed up with two other wonderful artistes Lalgudi Vijayalakshmi and Sikkil Mala, all in their teens at that time and gave a series of Violin Venu Veena concerts. The trio women were guided by her maternal uncle the Violin Legend Sri. Lalgudi Jayaraman during these concerts. At this period Jayanthi was also fortunate to accompany Dr. S.Balachander during some of his concerts.

The artiste

  • Soon Jayanthi was a full-fledged Solo performer and won the ‘Best Main Musician’, ‘The Best Veena artiste’, ‘The Best concert’ awards from several prestigious organizations like the Music Academy, Gayana Samaj, Krishna Gana Sabha and Narada Gana Sabha. She was also one of the youngest artistes to receive the A top grading from the All India Radio.

  • Her international tours started when she was 20 and she went on concert tours to USA, UK, Australia, Europe, Singapore, France, Germany to name a few. She won the “Iyal Isai Nataka Mandram” scholarship. She also won the Government of India scholarship for research on “Ragam Tanam Pallavi”. The recipient of several awards during this time, Jayanthi started her journey around the world with the celestial Veena.

Collaborator

Jayanthi has collaborated and performed with several celebrated musicians including her husband violin maestro Shri.R.Kumaresh and legendary table maestro Ustad Zakir Hussain. She has also cherished the experiences of performing with her mother Violin Maestro Smt. Lalgudi Rajalakshmi, Violin Maestro Shri. R Ganesh, Violin Maestro Shri Mysore Manjunath and jugalbandhis with Flute Maestro Shri Ronu Majumdar, Thavil Maestro Shri. Palanivel and many such luminaries. She is part of several ongoing collaborations – “Strings Attached” with her husband Violin Maestro Shri. R. Kumaresh, “Parallel Strings” with Anil Srinivasan (Piano), and her own band “Indian Spice” where she has collaborated with musicians from different genres.

Composer

Jayanthi has composed music for several dance productions and musicals. Her music for the dance ballet Krishna Bhakthi for Rasika, Portland featured both the Carnatic and Hindustani styles of compositions. She has scored background music for several documentaries. She has also created original music scores for productions like Jagadguru Adi Shankaracharya, Abbakarani, Rithu Soundaryam to name a few.

Apart from this she has composed individual pieces like Thillanas, Varnams and Raga based melodies that have been featured in many of her albums – Thillana Thillana, Vipanchi and Mysterious Duality.

She has recorded several albums with many companies around the world like Times Music, Music Today, Sense World, Earthsync, Navras, Home Records etc.

Researcher

The Veena – so much mysticism surrounding this wonderful instrument which is believed to have existed since the Vedic times. Having played the veena from the age of 3, Jayanthi believed it was imperative to know more about its origin and evolution and set out on a research journey.

She started her research from the basic human skull the first ever resonator to be used by Man all the way up to the modern digital veena.

She focused on the four Southern states in India – Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. Jayanthi learnt that the Veenas made in the four states are different from one another and each state has distinctly different styles of playing the same instrument.

During her six years of in depth study, she traced the various practitioners of each style and studied their training, technique, expression and unique performing specialties.

Extensive documentation, audio samples, photography and interviews formed the fabric of this research.

Jayanthi earned her Doctorate from the University of Mysore for her Study on Different Styles and Playing techniques of the Saraswathi Veena.

Pioneer

Photo Credit: K Ananthan

Mysterious duality, the album that Jayanthi conceptualized and recorded for Earth Sync, is a unique project where a single artiste has recorded seven overlapping layers of her veena tracks to create symphonic compositions. It is a multi-dimensional reflection of the simple yet complex self, expressed through a single instrument, the Veena. She has fully explored the musical range of the veena with her exceptional mastery over the instrument. The result is an original and vibrant album that has found rave reviews worldwide.

Listen to a sample audio

Jayanthi is the founder of the Indian National Orchestra that features 21 star musicians from all over India, in a first of its kind National Orchestra for Indian classical music. “To take music from every corner of India to every part of the world” is the goal behind Jayanthi’s brainchild. INO goes beyond existing compositions and creates new ones specifically for their orchestra that represent India’s heritage and culture. Learn more

Story in Concert is yet another unique attempt of Jayanthi where she collaborated with a story teller and presented different forms of concerts for varied age groups. The story is woven into the structure of the concert and unfolds itself in layers thereby making it a very rich experience for audiences at different levels.

Jayanthi has presented the Just Me concept in concerts where she renders 45 ragas non-stop for over 3 hours featuring Just the Veena.

Educator

Having a performance career spanning 3 decades, Jayanthi spends a good portion of her time sharing music with students at home and abroad, one on one and through her Master classes, workshops and lecture demonstrations to large audiences. In collaboration with the ethnomusicology department of many U.S universities, Jayanthi toured coast to coast to explain, through workshops and recitals, the richness of this 2000 year old traditional Indian music.

She has also collaborated with organizations such as SPICMACAY and BHOOMIJA to help promote Indian Classical music among children and Youth.

She regularly guides students of Indian Music in the UK through Milap fest, Bharatiya Vidhya Bhavan and Vani fine Arts. She has made multiple visits to Norway as part of an education series to demonstrate and explain Indian classical music in schools.

She has presented a lot of lecture Demonstrations on the Subjects such as Introduction to Indian Music, Styles of Playing the Veena, The Origin and Evolution of the Saraswathi Veena, The Story of the Indian Veena and the like.

Her Vision

Her mission is to establish a world class research Centre for this National Instrument of India, the Saraswathi Veena which will have an extensive audio Video library with state of the art facilities for recording and practice. It will showcase the craftsmanship of the great Veena makers of the past.

Jayanthi’s music is a unique blend of classicism and innovation. Her mastery over the instrument and her ability to bring it’s the richness without compromising the finer nuances of music has made her one of the best in her field. Her contributions to spread the melody of the veena around the globe continues…