Sept 2013

Indian American Boy gets Arangetram in Carnatic Music at Ten

(article by Sonal Kulshrestha)

Pranav Kikkeri, born and raised in America, was 2 year old when his dad discovered that the toddler could effortlessly repeat classical songs and ragas that he sang to him while pushing him on the swings in the park. Amazed, both the dad and the mom, themselves from a musical background, wasted no time. They first exposed Pranav to various different ragas and classical songs. Convinced that the young child has been bestowed with a natural gift of music, they approached Chitravina Ravikiran, who's one of the best Gurus Carnatic Music has seen in recent times. After listening to Pranav sing on the phone, he accepted the then 3 1/2 year old Pranav as his disciple. And so started Pranav's musical journey- at a tender age of 3 and half, getting his lessons over the phone from his Chennai based guru. A coaching that went on for about 6 years before culminating into an Arangetram in Carnatic Classical Music this summer of 2013, in the presence if his revered guru, family and friends. His mom filled us in on his story when we met Pranav for an interview. Pranav was too modest to tell us about how his skill was discovered and got him on the path to success.

Yes, we found Pranav to be a modest, very grounded and a very matured young man. At 10, he is among a handful of people in America to have performed Arangetram in music at this age. Our first question to him was if his Mom made him do it? "I always loved music. Singing is like a cool down for me, I relax with music. I always practiced by myself and enjoyed and looked forward to my sessions with Ravikiran Sir," he answered confidently. It was obvious he was always self motivated and didn't need his mom or dad to push him. "His sister, who has done Arangetram in Bharatanatyam, was hardest on him during the preparation for Arangetram. She made sure there's quality in practice and pushed him to perfection", his mom informed us.

(Below left: Pranav Kikkeri's interview with desideewar) 

How hard was it to get long distance coaching? We asked Pranav. "Ravikiran Sir is really good. Apart from the weekly lessons on the phone, he visited us in Dallas twice a year during which time I got a chance to take in person lessons too. Ravikiran Sir always keeps it interesting. If I want to learn a new piece, he never says no. He never made it overly intensive or stressful. So distance didn't matter", Pranav explained. His talent certainly is a testimony to the fact.

Where do you get your inspiration from, was our next question to Pranav. "From a bunch of great artists like Madhurai Mani Iyer Sir, who sings in interesting pattern and KVN Sir who's very melodious so I like listening to him at night", says Pranav.

We asked him about his hobbies and what career choice is he leaning toward He says he loves basket ball, soccer, tennis and swimming. He plans on becoming a doctor, a pediatrician.

Since desideewar is about staying connected with your roots, we had to ask him, apart from the classical music he learns, what else does he do that keeps him connected to his roots? He says he eats Indian food, adding, "Some are actually pretty good". ( We believe you, Pranav). He loves Ladoos and Kaju Katli. Also, his visits to India every summer to his grand parents' house keeps him connected to his roots.

So what's his goal in life now with respect to music? Pranav wants to perform at the Music Academy in Chennai. And after listening to him sing, I didn't think the day is too far at all.

As we prepared to leave, we also learnt that at five, Pranav created a new raga and his teacher named the raga after him, calling it 'Pranav Swaroopini'. How exciting! Keep that creativity going, Pranav!

We were quite impressed with Pranav- with his talent and the quite demeanor he projected. At ten he knew his passion, had worked hard to reach a culmination point and has set his goals for more. Way to go, Pranav, we wish you a very bright future. 

(We'll leave our readers with a short video of Pranav singing during his Arangetram- below right)

About Pranav's Guru:

Chitravina N Ravikiran hailed today as 'perhaps the greatest slide instrumentalist in the world today' (Radio National, Australia) and a revolutionary composer in world music, Ravikiran made headlines as the world’s youngest prodigy at the age of two, presented vocal concerts from age five, recitals since 11 and performed non-stop for 24 hours at the age of 18. Regarded as ‘An arresting virtuoso’ (Los Angeles Times) because of his ‘Teasing precision’ (New York Times) and 'Infectiously lively intricate up-tempo material' (BBC Magazine, UK), Ravikiran has been featured by major international festivals, TV and Radio networks and recorded extensively across the world.

Ravikiran's original concepts and/or inventions include:

• Melharmony - a novel approach to composing music that creates a deep synergy between the melodic approach of the East and the harmonic approach of the West.

• Taal Acharya - a revolutionary visual rhythm software

• Tele-teaching - a distance learning program in Indian music that he pioneered in 1996 and several other methods including what is today hailed by the media as 'flip-model teaching'.

• Nava-chitravina - a 20 string slide instrument that blends the spirit of the 2000 year old chitravina with 21st century aesthetics.

Ravikiran has collaborated with top world artistes and orchestras including BBC Philharmonic, composed over 600 traditional music/dance pieces, founded the North American Melharmonic Orchestra (NAMO) and The International Foundation for Carnatic Music (IFCM), mentored scores of performers and teachers, conducted special music camps for over 31,000 Rural Children in India, lectured extensively, authored critically acclaimed books and articles. Significantly, he was the first to introduce Indian music and Melharmony in school districts in the USA (such as Middleton, WI) in a structured manner, through orchestral compositions. His awards include the President of India's SNA Award and Citations from Cities of Houston & Tulsa in USA. He attributes his successes to his gurus - Chitravina Narasimhan and T Brinda.


Pranav with his guru, Chitravina N Ravikiran 


Pranav's Recent Accomplishments:

Pranav earned Special Prize at the renowned Carnatic Music Idol of 2013.  In 2014, Pranav had the honor of winning Carnatic Music Idol competition and was bestowed upon the ‘Junior Idol’ title. 

Pranav had a very successful concert tour in the Summer of 2014 performing for highly prestigious sabhas in Mysore and Bangalore, such as Nadabramha, Ananya , Talavadya Institution and others.

Pranav was the youngest contestant to win the second prize in the toughest “Concert Competition” at the world renowned Cleveland Thyagaraja Aradhana 2015.

Recently, Pranav was invited to perform for “ Shankara TV’ one of the largest TV channles dedicated to promote Arts and Culture.

In 2016, Pranav is all set to present his first ever concert at the world renowned Cleveland Thyagraja Aradhana on 24th Thursday at 12 pm. He will be the youngest solo performer at this year's Aradhana!

Legends spoke….

Smt late Sangeetha Kalanidhi.D.K.Pattamal: “…I want to listen to him again.”

Sri Sangeetha Kalanidhi R.K.Srikantan: “He is Natural…” 

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