Asian Australian Artists

Hari Sivanesan Will Be Playing The Veena With The Melbourne Symphony Orchestra At Bunjil Place

This is something which is really awesome and interesting and its about the journey of London born Hari Sivanesan a virtuoso on the Veena, which Sivanesan dubs as the “mother of the sitar”. Having just listened to some YouTube videos of the Veena, I really love the sound and music it makes, and I am sure this collaboration for a concert at Bunjil Place with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra will be awesome.

Who is Hari Sivanesan?

  • Sivanesan arrived in Australia in 2016 and was born in London to Sri Lankan parents;
  • He is a virtuoso on the Veena, which he calls the “mother of the sitar”. The Veena is a string instrument which originates from the Indian Sub-Continent and it is an ancient instrument;
  • Sivanesan is also a vocalist, composer and curator;
  • In 2019, he partnered with Dr Priya Srinivasan who is a scholar, dancer and choreographer, to create Sangam, with the purpose of increasing the representation of the arts in Australia for artists of South Asian backgrounds;
  • Sivanesan’s aim in his work and journey is to bring together his Sri Lankan, Tamil heritage and his South Asian roots with Western classical music;

On the 29th January, Sangam will perform at Bunjil Place with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, called Summer Symphony, conducted by Benjamin Northey.

Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and Sangam performers, Bunjil Place, 16 January, 2021. Photo via Casey City Council

Here are a few things Sivanesan told Lime Light Magazine about South Asian artists in Australia:

Also for our artists, they are South Asian Australians whose artistic life is separated from their everyday life: they live as a South Asian classical artist on the one hand and work and socialize on the other. There is not often a place where those two worlds collide.

For a lot of those nine artists, that was the first time that they invited their work friends and their uni friends to something that they did where they were so happy to say ‘this is what I do’. It was a beautiful moment for them…

Also, here is what he said about the Veena:

I call it the mother of the sitar because everyone knows the sitar thanks to Ravi [Shankar], god bless him. I was privileged to tour the States and UK with him in his orchestra in my teens. The veena existed before the sitar was created in India and so has a very old history.

It is a seven-string lute, similar to a sitar. Another way to think about it, is that a viola to a violin is what a veena is to a sitar… it has a deeper tone…

We hope to interview Sivanesan soon, and thought this would be a good quick post to push his and Dr Priya Srinivasan’s work.

Images via Lime Light Magazine

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