Rajna Swaminathan, disciple of Mrudangam Maestro Sri Umayalpuram K. Sivaraman, is an upcoming young artiste in the field of Carnatic percussion. She started learning Mrudangam from her father Dr. P.K. Swaminathan at the age of 5 and came under the direct tutelage of Sri Umayalpuram K. Sivaraman at the age of 8. She is being intensively groomed by the Maestro as his protégé. She is 16 years old, studying in the 10th grade.
Rajna has accompanied several prominent musicians, from South India, including Carnatica Brothers, Dr. N. Ramani, Flute Shashank, Smt. Jayalakshmi Santhanam, and won their praise.
During Fall 2004, Rajna toured USA along with her illustrious Guru and performed for one piece on Mrudangam with Sri Sivaraman playing on Kanjira to encourage her. She is the first and only female percussionist to share the stage with the Maestro. Sri Sivaraman presented her to the Maryland audience for a full two hour concert debut in October 2004.
Rajna performed at the prestigious Cleveland Thyagaraja Aradhana Festival in 2005 and 2006, and was specially spotlighted by JayaTV during their Chennai broadcast of the festival. Rajna debuted in Chennai, India during Summer 2005 and performed in several concerts, where she received great approbation from dignitaries and musicians. She has been regularly visiting India for performances, specifically during the Chennai December Music Season.
Rajna also performs Mrudangam for Dance programs, most notably the grand Kuchipudi dance ballet, Bhaaratha Sambhavam, held at Kennedy Center Eisenhower Theater in April 2004 and accompanying the legendary Dance couple, Dhananjayans at Smithsonian Institution in July 2006. Along with her father, Rajna won the Master/Apprentice award from Maryland State Arts Council in 2006, for which she will receive training in dance accompaniment.
In November 2006, Rajna gave a clinic/performance entitled “Women in Percussion – Breaking the Gender Barrier” for PASIC 2006 (Percussive Arts Society International Convention) at Austin, TX. She was very well received and appreciated by the western percussion community.
Rajna is the youngest and one of only a handful of female Mrudangam/percussion artistes in the world. In addition to Mrudangam, Rajna plays piano and has learned Bharathanatyam for some years.
In addition to playing for traditional South Indian Music and Dance, Rajna is interested in collaborating with Western artistes and popularizing this ancient instrument globally.
Rajna’s website: WWW.RAJNASWAMINATHAN.COM