Violin Virtuoso L. Subramaniam Mesmerizes in Rare New York Performance (Photos)

Co-presented by the World Music Institute, the 92Y hosted a rare and mesmerizing performance from India's violin virtuoso L. Subramaniam.
L. Subramaniam

Violinist Dr. L Subramaniam presented his Lakshminarayana Global Music Festival, in collaboration with the World Music Institute, in New York at the 92Y on 5 February 2016. It was a rare US performance, his first here since 2006, for the classically and traditionally trained virtuoso. The crowd at the Y was markedly different from that at a typical event — a sea of brown faces, including mine, turned up (and I believe security seemed heavier than normal inside and with at least one police officer positioned outside the venue).

L. Subramaniam was accompanied by a small group for a mesmerizing Carnatic performance that went over ninety minutes. Seated on the Dr.’s left was his son, Ambi Subramaniam, an acclaimed violinist in his own right. To the side of the father and son were Mahesh Krishnamurthy on mridangam and Ravi Balasubramaniam slapping the ghatam (essentially a clay pot). The elder Subramaniam introduced each of his pieces, the ragas, explaining the time signatures and the key changes. The first raga was Varnam and it began with him solo, then transitioned into a violin call and response with his son before the percussion joined in. Time flew by during the performance as the rich sonics resonated in the auditorium.

Following the performance, L. Subramaniam spoke to the audience including a correspondent for News India Times who asked about classical music appreciation. L. Subramaniam responded, “it’s great that audiences are able to appreciate different styles of music. An open-minded audience doesn’t mean that classical music will suffer. In fact, it may make us strive to be better.” Hopefully L. Subramaniam will strive to make his visits to the U.S. more frequent as the audience for world fusion music continues to grow.


The World Music Institute’s next presentation is Ladysmith Black Mambazo on 19 February. At the beginning of March, Bela Fleck and Abigail Washburn perform at the 92Y.