by Barbara Blum, fall 2013
The melodious yet chant-like notes reverberate. A sitar chimes in. Drums. The music is distinctly Indian but unlike any Bollywood finale. The U.S. got a small taste of the innovative choral music of alumnus Kanniks Kannikeswaran, composer and UC adjunct instructor, when it was featured in a long segment on NPR’s “Morning Edition” Nov. 7, part of NPR’s yearlong series to uncover and celebrate the diversity and richness of sacred music in the U.S.
Kanniks (as he prefers to be called), M (Eng) ’86, M (Bus) ’88, is a musician, music educator and writer with several recordings, productions and scores to his credit. He has been teaching Indian music theory and history as a CCM adjunct faculty member since 1994. According to his website, he bases all of his music instruction on “the core of commonality between the Hindustani and Karnatic streams of music.”
He is considered the pioneer of a growing Indian American choral movement and has created a large repertoire of music based on “raagas,” defined as traditional Hindu music with conventional patterns of melody and rhythm—each expressing an aspect of religious feeling. Kanniks founded the Greater Cincinnati Indian Community Choir, which won two silver medals in the recent World Choir Games held in Cincinnati in July 2012. He helped create similar choruses in Bethlehem, Penn.; Houston, Texas; Tampa and Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minn.; Toronto, Canada; Washington, D.C. and across the Atlantic in The Hague - Netherlands.