The Carnatica Brothers, aka vocalists C.P. Ganesh (who also plays the chitravina, a 21-string fretless lute) and K.N. Shashikiran (who doubles on the ghatam, a clay pot drum), are actually cousins–they’re both grandsons of Indian classical-music legend Gottuvadyam Narayana Iyengar. But the other half of their name is more accurate: their repertoire does indeed focus on Carnatic music from the southern part of the country, a flashier, faster-moving style than the Hindustani music dominant in the north.
I’ve only heard one recording by the group–they seem as well-known for conducting a marathon 24-hour performance in September 2006 as they do for the actual content of their work–but it certainly impressed me. Though sometimes only one of the cousins sings, my favorite parts are when they take off in tandem, darting up, down, and around with breathtaking precision and agility. They play a free concert tonight at 7 PM at the Chicago Cultural Center, joined by Tanjore Murugabhoopathi on mridangam (a barrel-shaped drum) and 13-year-old violin prodigy Sandeep N. Bharadwaj from Bolingbrook.