Asia Society Presents National tour of Kinsmen/Svajanam with Saxophonists Kadri Gopalnath and Rudresh Mahanthappa

Opens Thursday and Friday, November 8-9, 2007, at 8:00 p.m. at Asia Society, 725 Park Avenue at 70th Street, NYC

Two masters of the alto saxophone - one a living legend of classical South Indian Carnatic music and the other a fiercely innovative Indian American jazz musician - present a highly acclaimed and collaborative, cross-cultural work, Kinsmen/Svajanam, as part of a national, multi-city tour. Kinsmen/Svajanam, which was commissioned by Asia Society, will make three stops in New York and travel to Columbus, Ohio; Washington, D.C.; Minneapolis, Minn.; and Amherst, Mass.

Their collaboration - which fuses the seemingly disparate aesthetics of jazz and Carnatic music as well as myriad traditional and contemporary influences - was hailed in its 2005 premiere as "a rousing success" by JazzTimes. Following sold out performances in 2005, the two have returned for a much anticipated U.S. tour that opens November 8-9 at Asia Society in New York City.

Kadri Gopalnath, referred to as Emperor of Saxophone in India, has adapted a relatively new western instrument to the traditions of Indian Carnatic music. Rudresh Mahanthappa, called "one of the strongest voices on the jazz scene" by All Music Guide, fuses a myriad of contemporary and traditional influences, drawing on his Indian ancestry and using American jazz as his foundation, into his highly improvisational work. The distinction between their respective influences, training, and idiom is both complicated and enhanced by their shared South Indian heritage as well as their common vehicle of the alto saxophone. The two are joined by their co-led Dakshina Ensemble, which includes A. Kanyakumari (violin), Rez Abbasi (guitar/sitar-guitar), Carlo De Rosa (bass), Poovalur Sriji (mridangam-barrel drum), and Royal Hartigan (drum-set).

"This exciting work takes listeners to a new place where jazz and classical Indian music come together," says Rachel Cooper, Director of Cultural Programs and Performing Arts at Asia Society. "Their collaboration bridges differing traditions, influences, generations, and cultures, taking listeners on a ground-breaking artistic journey that is timeless, transnational, and represents India today."

Kinsmen/Svajanam is part of the Asia Society's Crossovers series, which highlights important contributions by Asian and Asian American artists to contemporary music, dance, and theater. The program was inaugurated in 1995 with a focus on music - specifically jazz - as an art form that transcends its ethnic origins and creates meaningful cultural experiences for people all over the world. Crossovers is an integral part of the Asia Society's efforts to promote contemporary Asian American artistic expression and debunk the notion that 'authentic' Asian art is purely traditional and belongs entirely to an idealized past.
Dr. Kadri Gopalnath is a true phenomenon in the world of Indian classical music. In 2004, he was awarded Padmashree, the highest award given to an artist in India, by President Sri A.P.J. Abdul Kalam. Among many other awards, he was crowned "Saxophone Chakravarthy" (The Emperor of Saxophone).
Gopalnath started learning the saxophone from the renowned T. V. Gopalakrishnan in Madras in 1975. In 1977, he gave his first concert and became an instant sensation. A true innovator, Gopalnath has over many years adapted the complex wind instrument to play Carnatic music of South India. His fame soon spread throughout India where he has frequently been the highlight of festivals and concerts. He grew in stature as a figure of immense popularity not only in India, but also throughout the world. He has participated in major festivals and presentations around the world, including the Music Halle Festival in France, the International Cervatino Festival in Mexico, the Berlin Jazz Festival, and the World Music Institute in New York. He has also toured the U.S., Canada, Germany, Australia, Bahrain, Qatar, Muscat, Malaysia, and Singapore, among other countries. Gopalnath has played with many leading jazz musicians including the saxophonist John Handy and has collaborated with flautist James Newton on an album. In 1994, he became the first South Indian classical musician to be invited to perform in the BBC Promenade concert. Gopalnath has also participated in many film projects, including The Duet by renowned Tamil director K. Balachander, with a music score by A.R. Rahman. Over 500 students have studied under him.

Guggenheim fellow Rudresh Mahanthappa is one of the most innovative young musicians and composers in jazz today. Named a Rising Star of the alto saxophone by the DownbeatInternational Critics Poll for the past five years, Rudresh has incorporated the culture of his Indian ancestry and has fused myriad influences to create a truly groundbreaking artistic vision.

As a performer, he leads/co-leads seven groups to critical acclaim. His most recent release for Pi Recordings Codebook (September 26, 2006) was named one of the Top Jazz Albums of 2006 by the Village Voice, Jazztimes, and the Denver Post, to name only a few, and received rave reviews from DownbeatJazztimes,, and Sciencemagazine. This album also reached #7 on U.S. jazz radio charts and #1 on Canadian jazz radio charts. As a performer, Mahanthappa has achieved international recognition performing regularly at jazz festivals and clubs worldwide. As a composer, Rudresh has received commission grants from the Rockefeller Foundation MAP Fund, American Composers Forum, Chamber Music America, and the New York State Council on the Arts to develop new work. Mahanthappa holds a Bachelors of Music Degree in jazz performance from Berklee College of Music and a Masters of Music degree in jazz composition from Chicago's DePaul University. He teaches at The New School University. Mahanthappa is also a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellow. He currently lives in New York, where he is regarded as an important and influential voice in the jazz world. 

Ticket prices for the Asia Society performances are $20 members/students/seniors; $25 nonmembers. For tickets and information, please call 212-517-ASIA or visit Members of the press in need of further information should contact Asia Society's public relations department at 212-327-9271 or

The U.S. tour is produced by Asia Society. This program is funded in part by the New York State Music Fund, established by the New York Attorney General at Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors. Recording of Kinsmen/Svajanam is funded in part by Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust and Aaron Copland Fund. Kinsmen/Svajanam is commissioned by Asia Society, with support from Multi-Arts Production Fund, a program of Creative Capital supported by the Rockefeller Foundation. Major support for performances at Asia Society is provided by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Helen and Will Little Endowment for Performing Arts. Additional support provided by New York State Council for the Arts.

Artist bios and the Kinsmen/Svajanam U.S. performance tour schedule follow:

Asia Society, 725 Park Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10021 Thu. & Fri., November 8 & 9, 2007, 8:00 p.m., (212) 517-ASIA

Freer and Sackler Galleries, Smithsonian Institution, Smithsonian MRC 707, P.O. Box 37012, Washington, D.C. 20013-7012, Sat., November 10, 2007, 7:30 p.m., (202) 633-4880

Wexner Center for the Arts, The Ohio State University, 1871 North High Street, Columbus, Ohio 43210-1393, Sun., November 11, 2007, 7:00 p.m., (614) 292-3535

Charles B. Wang Center, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, N.Y. 11794, Thu., November 15, 2007, 7:00 p.m., (631) 632-4400

Walker Art Center, 1750 Hennepin, Minneapolis, Minn. 55403, Fri., November 16, 2007, 8:00 p.m., (612) 375-7600

India Community Center, 2171 Monroe-Wayne County Line Road, Macedon, N.Y. 14502, Sat., November 17, 2007, 8:00 p.m. (585) 425-3891

Fine Arts Center University of Massachusetts at Amherst Room, 16 Curry Hicks, Amherst, Mass. 01003, Sun., November 18, 2007, 4:00 p.m., (413) 545-2511

About the Asia Society 
Asia Society is the leading global and pan-Asian organization working to strengthen relationships and promote understanding among the people, leaders and institutions of the United States and Asia. We seek to increase knowledge and enhance dialogue, encourage creative expression, and generate new ideas across the fields of policy, business, education, arts and culture. Founded in 1956, Asia Society is a nonpartisan, nonprofit educational institution with offices in Hong Kong, Houston, Los Angeles, Manila, Melbourne, Mumbai, New York, San Francisco, Shanghai, and Washington, D.C. Asia Society is on the web at