Patri Satish Kumar is one of India’s leading mridangam players, known for fine dynamic control and architectural solo phrasings. First inducted into music by his violinist mother, who noticed his talent at tapping his school lunchbox in rhythm, he went on to study under three Andhra Pradesh gurus - S Ramachandramurthy, VA Swami and V Narasimham. He credits his teachers with broadening his mind, recounting that they never set him ambitious goals beyond immersing into the music as fully as he could.
Kumar says that “the mridangam chose me and not the other way around”. But it was on the kanjira that he got his early break, reasoning that it would allow him to accompany top mridangam artists and perhaps fill in for them on occasion. It worked - he was soon accepted as a mridangam accompanist, and has now worked with almost all of today’s top Carnatic artists.
He has worked in jazz settings too, and his Dancing Drums project involves a large ensemble of layered percussion instruments. But his forays into fusion have not diluted his classical playing, which still forms the focal point of his stellar career.
"Isn’t our own kutcheri a sort of ‘classical fusion’? There has to be a constant upgrading and updating of one’s music"
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