Jon B Higgins
Jon B Higgins
He attended Wesleyan University and received all three of his degrees from there: a B.A. as a double major in Music and History in 1962, an M.A. in Musicology in 1964, and a Ph.D. in Ethnomusicology in 1973. He founded the Indian music studies program at York University in Toronto with Trichy Sankaran in 1971, and returned to Wesleyan in 1978 as a professor of music and Director of the Center for the Arts.
He continually sought to strengthen the quality of Wesleyan's curriculum, and immersed himself in numerous cultural activities inside and beyond the university community. He also maintained a very deep relationship with his family. Higgins was a singer of European and Western classical music. He is also recognized as the first non-Indian to perform South Indian classical Carnatic music at a high level of proficiency. He began his Indian music studies in Wesleyan courses taught by Robert E.
Brown and T. Ranganathan, and was quickly captured by the subtle beauty of the art form. He decided to fully dedicate himself to learning the language of Carnatic music, and went to India on a Fulbright scholarship to learn from T. Viswanathan.
Within a short period of time he performed to great acclaim at the Tyagaraja Aradhana, an important music festival in South India. He later continued his studies under the renowned dancer T. Balasaraswati, and wrote his dissertation on the dance music of bharatanatyam. Higgins returned to India as a Senior Research Fellow of the American Institute of Indian Studies.
He continued to perform Carnatic music, recorded several albums, and due to his widely-recognized sensitivity was honored with the sobriquet "Bhagavatar" (scholarly musician). He was killed by a drunken hit-and-run motorist on December 7, 1984. Higgins was much appreciated by Indian connoisseurs.His rendition of "Endaro Mahanubhavulu Andariki Vandanamu ("My salutations to all great artists"), a famous kriti (song) by Thyagaraja (a great composer of Carnatic Music) was extraordinary considering the fact that it is a difficult kriti for even the people with knowledge of the language in which the kriti is composed (Telugu). Other of Higgins' most famous renditions (available commercially / otherwise for listening on the Internet) include "Siva Siva Enarada," "Krishna Nee Begane," and "Kaa Vaa Vaa." Although he mostly won the acceptance of the general Indian public during katcheris (concerts), which were usually crowded, there were always the critics of his times pointing out minor errors in pronunciation. Needless to say, these never deterred the master who went on to deliver quite a lot of katcheris broadcast on All India Radio, only to increase the fan population. Read more on Last.fm.
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