Shruthi Rajasekar ’18, a Music Composition major pursuing a certificate in Vocal Performance, was one of three recipients of the 2017 Alex Adam ’07 Award administered through the Lewis Center for the Arts. The award provides support to undergraduates who spend a summer pursuing a project that will result in the creation of an original work of art. A senior and native of Plymouth, Minnesota, Rajasekar has studied South Indian music for the past thirteen years and classical voice for the past seven, performing in the U.S., Europe, and India. Her composition, “Do Not Stand At My Grave and Weep,” won the 2016 Vox Nova Chorale Emerging Female Composers’ competition. This summer, Rajasekar combined her interests in musical performance and composition to further study something she is passionate about — the unique music of Tamil cinema, or the music incorporated into popular films in “Kollywood,” the second largest film industry in India.
Rajasekar spent eight weeks in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India, studying with composer Sean Roldan (stage name of R. Raghavendra), a young star in the Kollywood film music industry recognized globally for his incorporation of traditional idioms into contemporary settings. In preparation for her time with Roldan, Rajasekar first spent two weeks learning new software with Steve Kaul, a prominent recording engineer in Minneapolis. The goal of her efforts was to acquire skills in popular melodies, rhythms, and studio-generated sounds while culling from her prior background in South Indian and Western classical music, ultimately composing her own score for a short film. Last spring, Rajasekar already began to explore the use of sound in film through the visual arts and music course “Sonic Cinema: Music, Noise, and the Moving Image” taught by Amy Herzog.
Speaking of her experience, Rajasekar shares:
“I was really blessed to have the opportunity to study film music this summer, particularly as I’m a total novice in that area! In addition, this was the first extended period of time I’ve had to focus solely on composition; it was an incredibly affirming summer, and I left India with the absolute certainty that I want to pursue a career in music. More than anything, though, I feel very lucky to be at a school that specifically values and celebrates the arts by providing its students with such unbelievable opportunities- my sincerest gratitude to the Adam Family for making this happen.”
The piece that Rajasekar wrote in culmination of her summer studies, “Sangeetham,” is for a male High School Chorus. It is one of two pieces that she is writing as part of the VocalEssence Remix Program, and will be premiered at Minnesota’s ACDA convention on November 17, 2017 by the VocalEssence’s Ensemble Singers.