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Meet Shivprasad Kotagal and Swapna Karambakkam of Param-Shikhar Academy of Tabla

Today we’d like to introduce you to Shivprasad Kotagal and Swapna Karambakkam.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Shivprasad and Swapna. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
The Tabla – arguably the most sought after percussion instrument in Indian Classical as well as popular music today, has been a cornerstone of my life for almost as long as I can remember.

I grew up in Baroda, a prominent cultural center for art and music in western India since the early 18th century. Hailing from a family of avid practitioners and aficionados of classical Hindustani and Carnatic music (the two major traditions of classical music in India), my parents recognized my gifted talents in rhythm and at the tender age of nine and put me under the tutelage of Shri Anil Gadgil. Within a short period, I had started performing on stage and went on to win many school and cultural competitions.

Encouraged by my high-school music teacher, Shri Mukund Gaekwad, I sought deeper proficiency in Tabla and my quest led me to Shri Madhukar Gurav, a renowned exponent of the Ajrada Gharana (Gharana implies a system of social organization linking musicians by lineage or apprenticeship, and by adherence to a particular musical style) and the-then head of the Department of Instruments at the Baroda Music College. This association helped me assimilate the rich repertoire and subtleties of the Ajrada style’s compositions marked by their exquisite rhythmic melody, complicated phrasing, and prominent use of the Bayan, the larger base drum often with a metallic finish.

In 2000, I moved to the U.S. for higher education but continued pursuing my passion for the Tabla by training under Pandit K. Prashant and his celebrated virtuoso father, Pandit K. Paramjyoti, disciple of Ustad Amir Hussain Khan of the Farukhabad Gharana. The father-son duo helped me amplify my repertoire with the Farukhabad style known for its use of the ring finger and stress on sonority in addition to generous use of the Bayan. I continue to train with Shri Paramjyoti and also leading Tabla Maestro Shri Biplab Bhattacharya from Kolkata.

I feel fortunate that I could pursue my passion for playing Tabla whilst pursuing education in engineering and subsequently full time work in Information Technology. A large credit goes to my parents and elder brother to have consistently encouraged me and to my wife, Swapna Karambakkam to have provided me all the support and freedom to spend time on my musical endeavors. I have been acclaimed as an accompanist for leading vocalists – Vidushi Sanhita Nandi, Late Shri Madhav Gudi to name a few and for instrumentalists like Sitar Maestro Late Acharya Roop Verma, rising star and Sarod player Souryadeep Bhattacharya to name a few and also for my solo performances. My performances have been featured on All India Radio, EBC Radio, and I-TV.

You may please view some snippets of my performances at: https://youtu.be/Aly-l7FABRk

In 2014, I along with my wife Swapna founded Param-Shikhar Academy of Tabla (http://www.param-shikhar.com) to share this great art form with members of the community including the younger generation. It has been three years since our formation and we continue to grow steadily spreading the joy of learning Tabla in a structured way focusing on all round development in various forms of Tabla accompaniment and solo performance. Atlanta with its richly vibrant and diverse diaspora has provided us a good home and environment to grow and with the blessings of our Teachers and well wishers we hope to continue to provide premier services in the field of Music Education.

You may please view some of our students performing at: https://youtu.be/aN-VaXbJu8I

Has it been a smooth road?
Running a music school while being employed full time and with a family and kids, has been quite a challenge. The savior has been my wife, Swapna who has not only supported me all along my
journey as a performer but readily took up all the responsibilities of managing the school’s day to day operations since inception. We believe that the reward of watching students of all ages grow as musicians and the prospect of having a positive impact on them as they become responsible citizens of this great country is worth all the effort and is what keeps us going despite all the challenges.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
Param-Shikhar Academy of Tabla is a premier school of Tabla located in the Suwanee/Cumming area of Georgia and we pride ourselves in providing world class education in Tabla. Features which make us stand apart are:

• A structured curriculum based on recommendations of leading accrediting institutions like the Akhil Bhartiya Gandharva Mahavidya Mandal based in Mumbai, India.
• Online and digital resources for Training.
• Tracks offered for specialization:

– Accompaniment in Bhajans, Ghazals and Light Classical music
– Classical Vocal and Instrumental Accompaniment
– Tabla Solo Performance.

• Coaching for Annual certification exams in Tabla.
• Mandatory Class recitals and performance opportunities for all enrolled scholars.
• Regular Chamber concerts at the Academy as a platform for visiting artists as well as to encourage local talent.

You may view an Introductory video about us at: https://youtu.be/09QtLjTgWEY

Contact Info:

Getting in touch: VoyageATL is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

3 Comments

  1. Mohan. G K

    August 18, 2017 at 2:04 pm

    It’s Wonderful that Mr Kotagal has pursued his passion even while he was studying and working.
    Good that he is now imparting his knowledge to others and teaching them this art.
    Kudos and best wishes for the years ahead

  2. Vydehi

    September 11, 2017 at 4:15 pm

    Awesome Guru, my son is fortunate to learn from him.

  3. Venkat

    September 11, 2017 at 5:19 pm

    Good to hear about MR. Kotgal’ s so many accomplishments. It’s amazing he has many achivements for a single individual. We are blessed to have teacher so great for our son Vamshi.

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