Rajna Swaminathan is an accomplished artist in the field of South Indian classical percussion – mrudangam. She is a disciple and protégé of mrudangam maestro Umayalpuram K. Sivaraman. Rajna is one of only a handful of female mrudangam artists in the world. She has performed with several renowned Indian classical musicians, including mentor and vocalist T.M. Krishna. Over the past few years, she has been collaborating with eminent musicians in New York's jazz and creative music scene, including Vijay Iyer, Steve Coleman, Miles Okazaki, and Amir ElSaffar. Rajna leads the ensemble RAJAS, a project that brings together musicians from Indian classical and jazz backgrounds to collectively explore new textural and improvisational horizons. She also regularly gives workshops on the South Indian rhythmic perspective, most notably at the Banff International Jazz and Creative Music Workshop, the Percussive Arts Society International Convention, and the KOSA International Percussion Camp. Rajna is active as a composer-performer for dance and theatre works. Most notably, she has toured widely with the acclaimed Ragamala Dance (Minneapolis). Rajna has also been commissioned, in collaboration with her sister Anjna Swaminathan, to compose music for playwright Anu Yadav. Rajna is co-artistic director of Rhythm Fantasies, Inc. - a non-profit organization that strives to promote South Indian classical music and dance in a space that encourages education and enrichment through innovation and cross-cultural collaboration. Rajna holds degrees in Anthropology and French from the University of Maryland, College Park. She is currently pursuing a PhD in music at Harvard University.
Ganavya Doraiswamy was trained as a vocalist, dancer, and as a multi-instrumentalist in Tamil Nadu for seven years. She holds degrees in Theatre and Psychology, and graduate degrees in Contemporary Performance (Berklee College of Music), and Ethnomusicology (UCLA). She was awarded one of Berklee's first Post-Graduate Fellowships, for which she constructed a course titled Sounds of Indian Music, and published a textbook under the same name. During her time in South India, she learnt how to play the jalatarangam, a near-extinct instrument championed by her late grandmother, Kalaimamani Smt. Seetha Doraiswamy. Ganavya briefly learned to play the veenai under the tutelage of Smt. Subhadra Raghuram. Ganavya graduated in the dance art form of Bharatanatyam under Smt. Radhika Vairavelavan (née Ganesh), student of Smt. Ambika Buch, of the reknowned Kalakshetra College of Fine Arts. Ganavya has catalogued the hundreds of mudras, or hand gestures, found in Bharatanatyam and published the document for Florida International University under the title Rasam for the Dancer's Soul. Her Karnatik guru is Karaikkal R. Jaishankar. For over a decade, she learned extensively from, and toured with, the troupe of Sri Tukaram Ganapthy Maharaj, where she became well-versed in the varakari tradition of singing abhangs, which are devotional poems written by Maharashtrian Hindu saints c.a. 13th century. Ganavya translates jazz standards to her native language of Tamil.
Miles Okazaki is an American musician based in New York City. He is known for his technical command of the guitar, his rhythmic approach to improvisation and composition, and his work in contemporary music theory. As a sideman, Okazaki works in many areas, ranging from Standard repertoire to experimental music. Recently he has been seen most frequently as the guitarist for Steve Coleman and Five Elements. Okazaki currently teaches guitar at the University of Michigan. His first book, Fundamentals of Guitar, was released in 2015. He has also taught at the Banff Institute, The New School, Queens College, The Juilliard School, Amsterdam Conservatory, and many other institutions. Outside of guitar, his past teachers include Anthony Davis (composition), Ganesh Kumar (Carnatic percussion), and Kendall Briggs (counterpoint). His awards and grants include Chamber Music America’s “New Works” (2007), Chamber Music America’s “French-American Jazz Exchange” (2009), the Jazz Gallery and Jerome Foundations Residency Commission (2010), the American Music Center’s Composer Assistance Program (2011), the Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation’s US Artists International grant (2012), the Rockefeller Brother’s Fund Artist Residency (2012), and the Jazz Gallery Mentorship program (2015). He holds degrees from Harvard University, Manhattan School of Music, and The Juilliard School, and lives in Brooklyn, NY.