City Lifestyle

Want to start a publication?

Learn More

Featured Article

Making Strings Come Alive

Meet Violin Virtuoso Srinaath Kidambi Perangur, Master of Western and Indian Musical Styles

Music has been called the universal language. This is especially true for 19-year-old Srinaath Kidambi Perangur of Bedminster, the recipient of the 2021 Excellence in the Arts Aspiring Young Artist award presented by the Somerset County Cultural and Heritage Commission. Perangur’s mastery of the violin includes both Western classical and Indian Carnatic styles of music—two very different sounds produced by a single instrument. 

Originating from South India, Carnatic violin is distinct in tuning, sound and style and is traditionally performed while the musician is seated on the floor holding the instrument upright in front of his body as compared to the Western classical sideways positioning. 

Perangur was nominated for the award by his former Carnatic violin teacher Sri Vittal Ramamurthy, who describes him as “a very humble and enterprising person, always ready to step in and help in any situation.” 

Perangur began playing classical violin at age five, adding Carnatic study a few years later. His musical journey has been nurtured by teachers and family members, many of whom are also performing artists. Perangur’s mother, Usha Kidambi, who first encouraged him to play the violin, is a classical Indian Bharatanāṭyam dancer.  Perangur’s maternal grandmother, Prabha Raghunathan, a Carnatic vocalist and music teacher herself, lives with the family and has accompanied Perangur on several trips to India where he was able to study music more intently. 

“She taught me a lot about music, especially Carnatic music,” says Perangur of his grandmother. The two have spent time in Raghunathan’s hometown of Hyderabad as well as Chennai, the hometown of his former Carnatic violin teacher, Ramamurthy, and his current teacher, Sri Lalgudi GJR Krishnan.

“That’s what really helped me grow as a musician,” says Perangur of the visits to India, where he was able to immerse himself in the Carnatic tradition, play music for up to eight hours a day and work directly with the music teachers that he regularly studied with over Skype. 

Perangur attended Bedminster Township public schools, where his music teacher, Scott LeFurge also helped mentor his musical development throughout elementary and middle school. “He was very supportive of both my Western and Indian violin playing, which I appreciate,” says Perangur, who was able to showcase both styles of music through violin solos at school orchestra concerts. 

As a student at Bernards High School, class of 2019, Perangur was a member of the Pit Orchestra as well as the Delbarton Abbey Orchestra, which is open to students throughout Somerset County. During this time, he found ways to inspire others through music. In 2013, Perangur started the Music for Matheny program in which he and his peers performed music for students at the Matheny Medical and Educational Center. 

Outside of school, Perangur performed at several music festivals, such as the annual Margazhi Utsavam Arts Festival of the Sri Vari Sri Balaji Temple in Franklin Township from 2016 to 2020. He also assisted Ramamurthy with a summer workshop and music camp offered annually in South Brunswick, with a final performance at the Sri Venkateswara Temple (Balaji Mandir) and Community Center in Bridgewater. Perangur helped with planning and scheduling, organizing lessons and rehearsals and teaching junior-level students. “I have seen him lead, follow and inspire all other students with ease,” Ramamurthy says.  

Perangur realized just how much he values playing music in ninth grade, when a broken hand rendered him unable to play for about eight weeks. “That was horrible,” he says.

As a junior at Brown University in Rhode Island, Perangur is currently studying Chemical Engineering and Sanskrit, with a focus on Carnatic aesthetics and lyrics.  While balancing a busy college schedule, he still finds several hours a week to play violin and has been instrumental in organizing a new classical South Asian music club on campus, coordinating the participation of a group of musical peers and the support of music faculty members who are assisting with making it an official club.

Whatever the future holds, one thing is certain: Music will play a central part. “Music inspires me and it helps me think.  It’s also a way of thinking for me,” Perangur says. “It's a part of my life. It’s something I can’t even imagine not having with me.” 

  • Srinaath Kidambi Perangur