One of the more innovative concerts of this month will take place during the final weekend at the Community Music Center (CMC). Indian percussionist Rohan Krishnamurthy will give the world premiere performance of “7 x 7,” created with support from the San Francisco Arts Commission. He composed this piece, structured in three continuous movements, for solo mridangam. Traditionally, this double-headed drum provides rhythmic accompaniment in a Carnatic music ensemble; but, as is clear from its Wikipedia page, the number of distinctive ways in which the instrument may be struck allows for an impressive diversity of sonorities.
However, “7 x 7” is not, strictly speaking, Carnatic music. Rather, the composition is based on field recordings that Krishnamurthy collected. These involve not only the variety of natural environments in San Francisco but also distinctive rhythms of both neighborhoods and the conversations taking place within them. Those familiar with Steve Reich’s “City Life” may get some idea of the approach Krishnamurthy has taken; but, while Reich assimilated his field recordings into the textures of a chamber orchestra, Krishnamurthy has abstracted out the rhythms and turned them into a percussion solo. Furthermore, his resulting score requires improvisation, as well as playing from composed material. Finally, because this is strictly a percussion composition, it allows for future performances that can feature other percussion instruments and, for that matter, performers of different skill levels. The performance of “7 x 7” will then be followed by what may be called a cross-genre jam session in which Krishnamurthy will perform with the trio of Prasant Radhakrishnan on saxophone, Colin Hogan on piano, and Ryan Andrews on drum kit.
This event will take place on Saturday, April 29. It will begin at 8 p.m. The venue will be the CMC Concert Hall, located at 544 Capp Street, between Mission Street and South Van Ness Avenue and between 20th Street and 21st Street. General admission will be $15 with a $10 rate for students and seniors, payable at the door.
In addition, in conjunction with his Individual Artist Grant from the San Francisco Arts Commission, Krishnamurthy will offer a free Indian Rhythm and Hand Drumming Workshop. This will also be held in the CMC Concert Hall. It will take place in the afternoon, prior to the concert. It will begin at 3 p.m. and last for an hour. Because this will be free, showing up is all that will be required.