Date: April 30, 2013
Venue: Cornelia Street Café (NY)
Review by Dawoud Kringle
Akshara is a percussion-based group whose compositions and improvisations combine Carnatic and Hindustani classical genres. The group performs original compositions by Bala Skandan, demonstrating the powerful and complex rhythmic structures inherent in South Indian classical music. The leading percussion instrument, the Mridangam, was played by Skandan. The group also featured Sriram Manesh on hand percussion, Mithun Radhakrishna on mandolin, Jay Ghandi on bansurai, and special guest Richard Bennett on piano.
They began with a composition in a 5 beat cycle. The percussionists did a duet within the rhythm; at times bringing triplet phrases into the 5. The percussion and bansurai / mandolin traded back & forth. They would explore all the permutations of the phrases and melodies. Bansurai & mandolin would play variations on the main melody so that it would expand and contract. They came together and wove the piece into several intricate teehais.