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Math & Cultural

Geometry and Music: Featuring Purna Lokha Quartet May 18, 2018 (01:30 PM PDT - 03:00 PM PDT)
Parent Program: --
Location: SLMath: Eisenbud Auditorium

A Meta Mathematical Framework for Integrating Indian Classical Music with Western Music 

Featuring Purna Lokha Quartet

Friday, May 18, 2018 from 1:30-3:00 PM

MSRI, Simons Auditorium
17 Gauss Way, Berkeley, CA 94720
Reception to follow in Atrium

It has long been known that there is a deep connection between mathematics and music. Inspired by this connection, mathematician Purnaprajna Bangere and Grammy Award-winning composer David Balakrishnan of Turtle Island String Quartet have worked together on a meta geometric framework for music that integrates elements of Indian and western classical music with jazz and the blues.

In this talk, accompanied by musical interludes, Purnaprajna shows how modern algebraic geometry -- especially Grothendieck's relative schemes and deformation theory -- sheds light on the connection between different genres of music. 

Purna Lokha Quartet features violinists Purnaprajna Bangere (University of Kansas) and David Balakrishnan (Turtle Island String Quartet) with Amit Kavthekar on tabla and Jeff Harshbarger on bass. 

"Just like Conlon Nancarrow, the quintessential American original who lived most of his life in Mexico City, Purna Bangere escapes definition.  Although he was born and schooled in Mysore, India, he settled in the United States only in 1991 and continued his musical activities as a violin virtuoso and a musical visionary.  His vision includes integrating musical elements not only from his native India, but increasingly from his adopted country, the United States.  He uses geometry to do this, which is his other passion. It is that essentially American meeting of cultural crossroads that reflects Bangere's deeply held belief in the brotherhood of humanity.  That belief makes this music urgently emotional as it pulls the listener straight into the eye of the storm." - Composer Jan Radzynski


Purnaprajna Bangere
Purnaprajna comes from a important school of violin players in India. He had rigorous training under the well-known South Indian violinist and teacher of great repute, HKN Murthy, student of the legendary Indian musician M. S. Gopalakrishnan. Purnaprajna is a representative of his school, and plays the style of music known as the Parur style, characterized by high technical virtuosity and musicianship. In the last two years, he has been invited to give solo recitals at events including the Learnquest Music Festival in Boston, the Cleveland Music Festival, and the Toronto Music Festival. Purnaprajna is a professor of mathematics at the University of Kansas, and he is developing a geometric framework to explore the integration of music and mathematics with David Balakrishnan, director of the Grammy Award-winning Turtle Island String quartet. (purnaviolin.com)

David Balakrishnan
Composer and violinist David Balakrishnan is the founder of the Grammy Award-winning Turtle Island Quartet. David was born in Los Angeles, and after graduating from UCLA, he quickly established his reputation as a talented young improvising violinist. He has appeared on many recordings and made guest appearances with the David Grisman Quintet and jazz violin legend Stéphane Grappelli. Under his direction, Turtle Island has won two Grammy Awards and David himself has been nominated six times, the most recent being a 2015 nomination in Jazz Composition for his piece "Confetti Man". In 2015 David was awarded Chamber Music America’s prestigious Classical Commissioning Program grant, supporting a full-length work commemorating the quartet’s 30th anniversary season. (turtleislandquartet.com)

Jeff Harshbarger
Voted 2011 Person of the Year by Plasticsax.com and Best Bassist by Pitch Magazine, Jeff Harshbarger has had quite an eclectic career. A prolific composer and bandleader in his own right, Jeff has recorded and performed across the globe with varied artists of repute. He is a co-founder of Tzigane Music, an artist-run collective and record label, and is the curator of Jeff Harshbarger Presents: An Alternative Jazz Series, promoting new improvised music in Kansas City. Jeff also hosts Wednesday's Jazz in the Afternoon from 1-3 pm on 90.1 FM KKFI. (jeffharshbarger.com)

Amit Kavthekar
Young and talented Amit Kavthekar (the last disciple of the late Ustad Allarakha) has rhythm running in his veins. At the early age of six, when most the children of his age were playing about, he was being groomed in the art of tabla playing by great maestro Ustad Allarakha. Since 1991, he was fortunate to be taught tabla intricacies by the world famous tabla maestro Ustad Zakir Hussain. Amit has played with some of the greatest Indian musicians such as Ustad Zakir Hussain and Sivamani on Zee TV in India and Pt. Shivkumar Sharma in his documentary directed by Jabbar Patel. He has accompanied Pandit Jasraj, Ustad Shahid Parvez, Ustad Aashish Khan, Pandit Buddhadev Dasgupta, and Pandit Kushal Das. Amit currently teaches at the New England School of Music in Boston. (amitkavthekar.com)

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