Ragha flaunting the flute !


Ragha, Raghavendran  Rajasekaran, got connected to the flute at the young age of 11 when his parents enrolled him in the flute class of Ghanavenothan Retnam.  He immediately took to it with earnest zeal.  With an alluring solo classical recital ‘ Raghadwani’ of 2 and half hours with both South Indian classical and North Indian classical repertoire included, this young 24 year old Singaporean Indian plans to be a full time flautist.

Interestingly not only trained in Indian classical music he also holds a diploma in Jazz Music from LASALLE college of Arts Singapore. Ragha, “Here under the tutelage of Australian Jazz Virtuoso Tim O'Dwyer, I was made to use the Carnatic Flute in Jazz music, applying Ragas and Jazz Idioms in Orthodox Jazz Systems of Music.”

This versatility has made him active in groups such as “Swathi”, the Nrityalaya Art Academy’s youth classical ensemble, “Gammarays” the contemporary ensemble formed by Gamelan Asmaradana which performs Jazz, Rock and Pop, "Tigaia" a world music ensemble which focuses on the Arts Education and Enrichment, "Tisra Roopa Sangeeth" an Indian Classical Trio based on the modern thematic original compositions and interpretations. The ensemble (Swathi) clinched the 2nd Runner’s Up Award at the Singapore National Indian Music Competition 2006.

He has recorded and performed with Singapore’s World Renowned percussion outfit Wicked Aura’s Debut album (Louder than Light), Gammarays’ Debut Album(On the Dance Floor), Johor Bahru’s band Manmatha’s Second Album, PaperCitizens’ (Monster’s In Silence) and RUDRA.

He was awarded “Bright Young things” in a selection of 10 out of 50 participants by the Esplanade Singapore 2010 and was winner of the Open Flute Category of the National Indian Music Competition 2011 organized by the Singapore National Arts Council.

His commitment to his passion: “In my younger days, practise was 30 mins daily. At the age of 16 I was further inspired into music when I heard Pt Ravi Shankar and Yehudi Menuhin recording in raag Misra Pilu. I tried transcribing the song and ever since I have an insatiable desire for music. The composition was just too magical at that point of time. I began practising harder and longer not thinking about the hours.”

Ragha has the good fortune to be moulded by a single Guru ( teacher ) throughout his learning journey . The highly accomplished, Ghanavenothan Retnam, tutor at Nrityalaya, recipient of several awards like the prestigious Singapore's "Young Artist Award" for music, "Lifetime Achievement and Humanitarian Medallion" by the World Peace and Harmony Organization, New York and other titles. Ragha has had tutelages under Trichy L. Saravanan and Pt Ronu Majumdar with support from National Arts Council Singapore.

On Flute and ‘Fusions’:  “What I love about the flute is the ability to emote feelings, rasas, on every note based on your breath quality. We can even sound like we are crying on the flute. I love fusions. Musicians should never feel restricted to orthodox styles, because art is meant to open the minds, not restrict within traditions. Nevertheless the foundation of classical music must be understood before any pursuit in explorations.”

Ragha has played for Bharathanatyam arangetrams and many other productions including Pesta Raya, Fusion Beats, Heritage Festival, Loud Fest, World Beats Festival, Mosaic, Flip Side Festival, Gilles Peterson’s World Wide Festival, World Beats (Republic Poly), Loud Fest ,  World Folk Song Festival 2008(Beijing), Yogyakarta Gamelan Festival 2008(Indonesia) and Ensemble of Gamelan 2012(Malaysia) .

‘Flautist’ as career: “Generally, it is a misconception that we cannot survive with music in Singapore. Every opportunity of performance presents itself with another opportunity if you do it well. And there is a need for musicians all over the country and the world. A good musician will never run out of job.”

For Ragha we share the blessing from his Guru, “.…my fervent prayer to the Lord of the Divine Flute – Sri Krishna is, may Ragha be blessed to a heightened artistic excellence in his music career as he continues to deliver his delicate, peaceful and passionate music to the arts world.”

(‘Raghadwani’ flute recital was held on 16th Nov at NTUC Auditorium commemorating 60th Year of existence of  Nrityalaya Aesthetics Society)