Bio

Saraswathi Ranganathan

...to create a joyous & harmonious space in this cosmos!

Encounter with an Original Artiste
Featuring our Chicago Land Cross Cultural Ambassador

“….the swirling combination of Veena and Tablas picked up into an impressive hypnotic trance….”LASplash

“….enraptured the audience with delightfully pleasing phrases….”The Hindu

“…..rich and profound musical experience….”

".....Chicago's most versatile Veena artiste....." Chicago Tribune

These are some of the descriptions you hear of Saraswathi’s music. Saraswathi or Sara Ranganathan, resident of Chicago USA, is a performing Carnatic Classical Veena artiste and cross-cultural music ambassador, who believes in the power of 'one-stage one-music one-community' through artistically enriching collaborative endeavors with Carnatic music as the medium. (For those unfamiliar with the instrument, Veena is a timeless ancient stringed instrument from Southern India akin to the lute, known for its bass mellow tone). Saraswathi tirelessly strives to bring sounds of the Veena to a diverse audience, through concerts at prestigious world music festivals, collaborations with highly talented reputed artistes from different genres, creative workshops at schools, lecture-demonstrations at colleges for world music courses, educational performances at museums and other noted places of public interest, demos at libraries, founding her school Ensemble of Ragas, and through her multi-cultural band Surabhi.
All her efforts paid off when Saraswathi’s versatility as a Veena artiste was further recognized when she was recently picked as the first Carnatic Veena artiste to adorn the stage of an off-Broadway play, Jungle Book directed by the celebrated 'Genius' Mary Zimmerman and supported in part by Disney Theatrical Productions.

Click on the link below to listen to Saraswathi's feature on WBEZ Radio WorldView segment with Tony Sarabia.

https://soundcloud.com/wbez-worldview/global-notes-saraswathi

Six-time Jeff-Award winning Music Director Doug Peck has this to say about Saraswathi: “Simply put, Saraswathi Ranganathan is one of a handful of truly great musicians with whom I have been fortunate enough to collaborate. Her technique allows her to be one of the fastest Veena players, while her soulfulness gives her lyrical playing tremendous depth of feeling and meaning. Working on The Jungle Book required Saraswathi to have knowledge of South Indian, North Indian, jazz and musical theatre concepts, and she was supremely adept in each style. Working alongside her for almost six months, I can truly say there was never a moment when Saraswathi did not give herself completely to the music, and her supportive energy was such a huge gift to our project.” The Jungle Book ran to packed houses at the Goodman Theater in Chicago and Huntington Theater in Boston – in turn bringing high visibility to the Veena.

Some of Saraswathi’s other collaborators include Chitravina Ravikiran, Pt. Vishwa Mohan Bhatt (MohanVeena), Indrajit Banerjee (Sitar), Krithika Rajagopalan of Natya Dance Theatre, Las Guitarras de Espana (Flamenco), Fulcrum Point Ensemble, Dr. Saradapurna Sonty of SAPNA for poetry and sacred chanting, Kalapriya’s Pranita Jain, Madhyalaya (acclaimed rhythm ensemble) led by Akhilesh Gundecha: she has performed at several prestigious events/venues in India and US including Chicago World Music Festivals, India Calling, Heritage India, Chicago Cultural Center, Millenium Park music festival, Indo American Center exclusive performance for Indian ex-President & World Peace Ambassador APJ Abdul Kalam, Consulate General of Chicago, and several original music productions featuring ancient acoustic instruments like Oudh, Djembe, Marimba, Flamenco folk guitar, African ‘talking drum’, Mridangam, Ghatam, Kanjira, Tabla, Oudh, alongside the Veena. – An ensemble where American and African drums and the Mridangam and Tabla reverb in harmony. 

Hailing from a family of musicians, Saraswathi started learning Veena at the age of 6 from her mother Shantha, grandmother Gaana Sudhaakara Sulochana Mahadevan and Karnataka Kalashree EP Alamelu. This passionate interest with extensive listening to great stalwarts from a young age, has blossomed into Saraswathi's deep knowledge in Carnatic Classical music as well as an openness and receptivity to blend Carnatic classical with western, flamenco, Turkish, Afro, Blues, Jazz and other genres.

Saraswathi brings a fresh verve to Veena rendition with her versatile play - Saraswathi passionately believes that her goal of bringing people together can be achieved through the eternal fragrance and perennial freshness of Carnatic classical music. She endeavors for refreshingly soft Veena aesthetics that can be intimately experienced in the rapturous dimensions of the listeners’ hearts – with an aim to create a joyous and harmonious space in this cosmos. Saraswathi has been conferred the title ‘Veena Paani Saraswathi’ 'Veena Vaadana Vishaarada'. Saraswathi’s collaborative album with internationally acclaimed Mridangam Maestro Patri Satish Kumar ‘The Magic of Veena – Vol2’ can be purchased through iTunes, Amazon and cdbaby.com
Saraswathi has touched many a heart - from the music aficionado to the casual person. Her richness and originality in repertoire attracts the young and old from all backgrounds.

While working for the Jungle Book project, Saraswathi was instrumental in getting together highly talented members from the Jungle Book orchestra forming a band ‘Out-of-the-Jungle’ that successfully gave performances in Chicago and Boston featuring Indo-Jazz-Turkish music, and will continue work together to present this unique sound.

Surabhi a band founded by Saraswathi has a prolific track record of performances delighting audiences with their energetic yet melodiously refreshing indo-jazz-flamenco-blues grooves. Aside from talented guest artiste line-ups, Surabhi’s core members include Carlo Basile on the Flamenco Guitar, Bob Garrett on the Drums/world percussion, Dhananjay Kunte on Tabla, Ganapathi Ranganathan on Mridangam, Ravi Iyer on Ghatam, and Saraswathi on the Veena. In addition to performances, Saraswathi offers special classes to Classical Jazz/Rock guitarists on improvisational music.

Saraswathi holds a Masters in Sanskrit and an MBA from Loyola University of Chicago. She runs her music school, Ensemble of Ragas in Schaumburg teaching Carnatic Classical Vocal and Veena. For more information/booking performances/lessons, write to worldmuziq@gmail.com