Mrudangam (South Indian percussion) artist and composer Rajna Swaminathan founded the ensemble RAJAS, which finds its namesake in the Sanskrit ‘rajas,’ referring to the inner energy that compels us toward action, creation, and change. The ensemble embodies this spirit in their exploration of new collective possibilities in the resonances among Indian music, jazz/creative music, and other improvisational traditions. The group will play a combination of new material and music from Rajna’s debut record with the ensemble, Of Agency and Abstraction (Biophilia Records, 2019). The Financial Times describes Rajna’s compositions for the ensemble as having “wedded beauty by courting chaos, with the methods of loose-knit latter-day jazz at the service of a recognizably South-Asian melody and pulse.”
María Grand—tenor sax
Rajna Swaminathan is an acclaimed mrudangam artist and composer. She is a protegé of mrudangam legend Umayalpuram K. Sivaraman, and tours regularly with renowned Indian classical musicians and dancers, most notably vocalist T.M. Krishna. Since 2011, she has been collaborating with eminent musicians in New York’s jazz and creative music scene, experimenting with new possibilities at the nexus of multiple traditions and expanding the horizons of her instrument. In addition to the ensembles she leads, Rajna performs extensively in projects led by Vijay Iyer, Amir ElSaffar, María Grand, and Ganavya Doraiswamy. Rajna is currently pursuing a PhD in Music (Creative Practice & Critical Inquiry) at Harvard University.