By: Patricia Kaowthumrong, Asian Avenue magazine
Carnatic violinist and vocalist Priya Hariharan’s deeply rooted love for music has helped her spread her passion in Colorado and beyond.
In addition to being a professional performer, Hariharan is the founder and director of Bhairavi School of Music, where she offers Carnatic music training through vocal and violin instruction. She also created the Rocky Mountain Thyagaraja Utsavam in 2008 to connect Carnatic music lovers and performers in Colorado.
“I am most inspired by pure, soulful music—the kind of music that stops you in your tracks and stirs your very being,” Hariharan says.
“It could be the simplest musical form or the most complicated. It doesn’t matter.”
Considered one of the oldest systems of music in the world, Carnatic music is commonly associated with the southern part of the Indian subcontinent; its origins can be traced all the way back to 1000 B.C.
Her mother, Smt Lakshmi Narayanan, started Hariharan’s vocal training at age 6.
“I have always wanted to be a musician. Music was my passion from a very young age. It was around me all the time, and I was constantly immersed in Indian music and culture from the very beginning,” Hariharan says.
She is proud to be a part of two celebrated and historical Carnatic music lineages that date back to the mid-1700s. Her violin teacher Padmabhushan Lalgudi G Jayaraman and her mother both belong to the student lineage that originated from divine saint composers in the Divine Composer Trinity of Carnatic Music.
Hariharan’s Indian culture is also a major part of her music.
“To uphold traditions and Indian values in our culture with dignity, pride and respect is very much a part of the Indian heritage,” she says. “It has and will always be a part of me, and hence, emanate from my music as well.”
Hariharan has not only accompanied a long list of notable Carnatic musicians, but she is also involved in the Western music scene. She performs with many professional fusion bands such as Devotchka.
In her spare time, Hariharan enjoys reading books, cooking with her kids, traveling with her family and trying new musical instruments. She also likes reading and learning about Vedic astrology.
She encourages aspiring musicians to listen to legendary musicians and attend live concerts to encourage themselves to set and achieve goals.
“A true musician or student of music is not defined by the one-class-a-week taught by the teacher, but rather by how much thought and effort he or she puts, in addition to that one class a week,” she says.
A true musician never stops learning, Hariharan says.
She cited one of her favorite quotes from Robert Frost, “The woods are lovely, dark and deep. But I have promises to keep. And miles to go before I sleep. And miles to go before I sleep.”
Hariharan will be accompanying Shri VK Arunkumar on Oct. 13 at D.L. Parsons in Northglenn, and hosting Bhairavi School of Music’s annual recital on Oct. 14. To see more events or to learn more about her music, visit www.priyahariharan.com.