A New Frontier in World Music: V.S. Narasimhan’s Seamless Integration of East and West

WASHINGTON, D.C., November 5, 2008 – Renowned South Indian violinist and composer V.S. Narasimhan has put the finishing touches on “Raga Saga,” an album (to be released by String Temple Records in December 2008) for string quartet, which reflects the most innovative and thoughtful integrations of the Indian and Western Classical music systems to date.

The album—composed of traditional Indian Classical pieces, which are imbued with an enduring blend of Western harmonies, counterpoint, and pulsating rhythmic structures—reflects a startlingly natural sound as though this music style has always been in existence. Specifically, the improvisational skill displayed in this album—a key feature of Indian music—and the Western voices of the viola and cello—are at the heart of this breakthrough art form and function as the engine of the listener’s journey through this work. A pioneer in this entirely new musical form of using the western quartet format for Indian music, Mr. Narasimhan uses a delicate, intricate, thoughtful approach in his artistic touch, a touch which is often lacking in many of the current fusion styles.

He has been humbled by the recognition that he has received from noteworthy classical music legends for his efforts and body of work over the past few years in integrating the two music systems in a meaningful way:

Cellist Yo Yo Ma referring to Mr. Narasimhan’s body of work: “A worthy addition to my collection. I feel the greatness of my tradition should stand behind your beautiful classical tradition.”

Russian virtuoso violinist Maxim Vengerov praised Mr. Narasimhan’s work as “amazing – something out of this world and highly beautiful. For me, literally mesmerizing.”

Legendary Indian percussionist Zakir Hussein commented: “Oh my goodness! What a fabulous work is that, and you also proved that you don’t need a percussionist at all for the presentation of such beautiful compositions.”

Most recently, David Balakrishnan of the Grammy award-winning Turtle Island String Quartet, had this to say regarding his newest work, “Raga Saga”:

“In speaking to the quality of this evocative and brilliant new recording . . . I will say that when I listen to this music, my heart erupts with joyous elation, then my professional curiosity kicks in, and I am filled with wonder and deep respect for the level of craft that went into producing this excellent CD. What I hear in these tracks is a voice on the other side of the world, seemingly entirely divergent yet at the same time oddly familiar, using the same classic instrumentation to provide yet another compelling new musical paradigm in the continuing evolution of the string quartet form.

One can only wonder what Papa Haydn would have thought if somehow by a miracle of time travel he was to hear this music!”

Mr. Narasimhan is well known throughout India as a solo violinist for legendary Indian film music directors such as A.R. Rahman and Ilaiyaraja. In recent times, however, his passion for classical music has led him down a different path culminating in the development of this new musical art form. He is uniquely equipped to produce a work of this kind because of his knowledge of and ability to play, perform, and compose in both Western classical and in Indian classical music styles.

Mr. Narasimhan’s accomplishment serves notice to the classical music world that inspires innovation and improvisation are very much alive within a musical genre that has often suffered from stagnation with respect to these two characteristics.

For more information or to receive advance copies to run reviews of “Raga Saga” from String Temple Records, please contact Rahul Iyengar through e-mail stringtemple@gmail.com or phone (240) 421 – 0194.

About String Temple Records:

String Temple Records, based in Washington, D.C. and Chennai, India, is a world music label that works with a limited collection of world-class artists and seeks to provide a catalog of innovative and meaningful musical works.