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Varun Rangaswamy is a composer, scholar, bassoonist, and Karnāṭak musician. Their music, which has been performed across North America and Europe, focuses on the interstices between different identities within a single body. He engages with the instability of cultural processes—like the formation and reconfiguration of identity—by deconstructing normative cultural associations between sonic, visual, and spiritual signifiers within a highly representational compositional setting. To achieve this, Rangaswamy performs distortive transformations of musical practice, whether through physical experimentation with instrumental convention or through relocation of the body in musical action, conjuring a chaotic degree of emotional intensity and viscerality. Their music explores the simultaneous compartmentalization, unification, and distortion of his identities in an effort to understand and express their own ontological multiplicity.
Rangaswamy helped conceive and establish the San Diego Emerging Composers Concert, in which he has participated as composer, performer, and recruiter. This annual concert series gives performance opportunities to undergraduate composers based in San Diego. Additionally, Rangaswamy is currently a board member for San Diego New Music, an organization dedicated to performances and commissions of both well-known, living composers as well as emerging ones.
Currently a graduate student in composition at UC San Diego, Rangaswamy was originally trained in Karnāṭak music, a type of South Indian music. He has studied vocal performance with C.M. Venkatachalam, Sangeetha Kalanidhi Chitraveena N. Ravikiran, and B. Balasubrahmaniyan, and is currently studying mridanga with Rajna Swaminathan. An avid bassoon player and improviser, he has also studied bassoon performance with San Diego Symphony principal bassoonist Valentin Martchev and later with George Sakakeeny at the Eastman School of Music. Present and former mentors include Marcos Balter, Chinary Ung, Lei Liang, Chaya Czernowin, Robert Morris, and Anaar Desai-Stephens.