Anantha R. Krishnan started his musical journey on the mridanga, the principle drum of Karnatic classical Indian music. The grandson and disciple of the great mridanga maestro, Shri Palghat R. Raghu, Anantha first learnt the fundamentals of the mridanga from his uncle, Shri R. Ramkumar. At the age of five, Anantha then began a formal tutelage under his grandfather.
He performed his first concert at the age of seven. Before the age of twenty, he had performed alongside a rare generation of Indian classical musicians, including, among others, Dr. M. Balamuralikrishna, flautist Hariprasad Chaurasia, Professor T.N. Krishnan, Dr. K.J. Yesudas and Mandolin Srinivas. During this period, he received many awards from traditional organizations of classical music in India. Most notably, he won the categorical Best Mridangist Prize five times in six years from a reputed institution for promoting classical Indian music, the Music Academy in Madras. Also, as part of the National Endowment of the Arts’ effort to promote cultural awareness in the United States, from 1997 to 1998, he was twice awarded the State of the Arts Award from the New Jersey state government in the United States.
In 1999, he was invited to perform for the Millennium celebrations in Berlin, Germany at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt and at the EXPO 2000 in Hanover. Recently, he went back to Germany at the invitation of Fred Frith, the British experimental guitarist, to perform for the seminal New Jazz Meeting for SWR 2, a national radio station in Baden.
In October 2007, he was invited by Rudresh Mahanthappa to perform with the group, Samdhi, at the Festival of the Firsts in Pittsburgh, PA. In July 2011, he performed in a Carte Blanche Artist Series at the North Sea Jazz Festival in Rotterdam with the same group. Performing again with Samdhi, Anantha was the first mridanga artist to appear in Carnegie Hall’s Shape of Jazz series in New York City.
In May 2008, he was a featured soloist in the Grammy-nominated, “Miles from India” tour, which premiered at the New York City Town Hall, presenting the great Miles Davis’ music with Indian instrumentation featuring jazz legends Ron Carter, Dave Liebman, Lenny White, Ndugu Chancler, and Pete Cosey. He received a commission from the San Francisco Foundation in 2009 to compose a body of work for voice and drum with Gautam Ganeshan called “New Directions in Indian Classical Music”.
He was invited by tabla maestro Zakir Hussain to perform solo on the mridanga to honour renowned tabla maestro Alla Rakha in Mumbai and for the Abbaji Jayanti Celebration in Pune in February and April of 2014. In November 2014, he was invited to perform at the opening ceremony for the International Film Festival (IFF) in Goa. He toured Scotland in January 2015 with Carnatic violin virtuosos Ganesh and Kumaresh for the BBC Celtic Connections. Anantha was invited during the spring of 2016 to be a part of Ustad Zakir Hussain’s Master of Percussion ensemble. With Ensemble KNM in Berlin, in March 2017, he was part of a unique concert of new music entitled “Memory Space”.
Anantha has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Western Music and Philosophy from Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, and a Master of Fine Arts degree in Electronic Music and Percussion from Mills College, California. For the past seven years, he also has been studying the tabla under Ustad Zakir Hussain. He appears on lntakt Records, Echo Music and ACT Records. Currently, he serves on the faculty at A.R. Rahman’s KM Music Conservatory in Chennai, India.
Anantha’s most recent recognition was by way of being selected to represent an ensemble of Indic classical musicians at the BBC Proms and perform at the Royal Albert Hall alongside stellar maestros like Budhaditya Mukherjee, Kumaresh Rajagopalan and Jayanthi Kumaresh.