Roulette TV visits composer and our Van Lier Fellow Anjna Swaminathan in her home to discuss her latest project premiering Monday, November 16th. Rivers Above, Floods Below is an homage to the experience of immigrants, reflected in the meteorological phenomenon of “atmospheric rivers,” large bodies of water which collect in the atmosphere above the tropics and later rain down in a different place entirely. This work considers the possibility that much like these bodies of celestial water, our homes, too, are not stationary, but exist in the very possibility of our migration. Our global collective relies on a memory of homelands that have been colonized, spliced, and severed time and time again, but while we are so often nostalgic for a home that is broken, we more easily find community in new lands that don’t feel beholden to the same burdens of conflict and status quo. Much like the rivers brewing and creating movements above, Swaminathan considers the massive rivers of protestors who have flooded the streets against injustice in recent months. What if this, too, is a deluge of cosmic importance?
Anjna Swaminathan is a queer multidisciplinary artist, composer, violinist, vocalist, writer, theatre artist, and dramaturg. As an artist with a passion for sociopolitical work, community building, and critical consciousness, her artistic practice is an extension of her activist spirit. Informed by her rigorous training in the Carnatic and Hindustani music traditions of India, Anjna creates in New York’s vibrant creative music and improvisatory scene, in hybrid classical compositional work, and in her own multidisciplinary projects. She is a disciple of violin maestro Parur Sri M. S. Gopalakrishnan and Mysore Sri H.K. Narasimhamurthy and continues her training in Hindustani music with Samarth Nagarkar. Since 2018, Anjna has been under the compositional mentorship of Gabriela Lena Frank with whom she is exploring the creative possibilities of using Western Classical notation as a mode of communication for her deeply rooted Indian classical compositional and improvisational ideas. As an educator, Anjna has a strong commitment to mindfulness-based music-making, socially conscious and empathetic principles, and expression-oriented rigorous practice.