Born in the United States, Kesari Pundarika started playing viola at the age of eight when her family moved to London. Kesari returned to the United States to study Spanish at Tufts University, Massachusetts, during which time she also spent five months in Cordoba, Spain.
Because of her love of languages and literature, Kesari has always been drawn to the scope of the musician to convey a story to their audience, whether by solo, chamber or orchestral performance, and upon achieving her bachelor’s degree in Spanish, Kesari decided to pursue a career in music. She moved to London and studied with Ian Jewel at the Royal College of Music, before completing her master’s with Martin Outram at the Royal Academy of Music.
Whilst studying, Kesari played in masterclasses with Helen Callus, Jennifer Stumm, Predrag Katanic, the Emerson String Quartet and the Fine Arts Quartet. Kesari has performed at venues such as Faneuil Hall in Boston and the Royal Festival Hall in London, with conductors such as Vladimir Jurowski and Marin Alsop, and at festivals including the British Isles Music Festival and Lake District Summer Music Academy.
As a chamber musician, Kesari has performed the second solo part in Bach Brandenburg Concerto VI as a member of a viola ensemble and also plays in a string quartet. In addition to performing, Kesari is committed to teaching and promoting the viola to the younger generation, and recently held a viola day at her former school, giving a series of performances and talks about the instrument.
Kesari plays on a viola made by David Rattray in 2011.
What is your favourite piece of music, and why do you love it?
It’s hard to choose just one, but I think everyone has a few pieces that they really feel were life changing when they first heard them. For me, it was the third movement of Hindemith Solo Sonata Op.25 No.1. When I first heard it, I was just so surprised how expressive and beautiful this movement was. I later read a short story called Ylla from Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles. A woman who lives on Mars keeps hearing a tune in her head that no one else can hear. Whenever I think of this story, I imagine the woman to be hearing parts of this Hindemith movement.
What do you think concerts of the future should look like?
Concerts of the future could be more varied and should include concerts as they are today, but also more cross-cultural concerts. Someone recently told me about an app you can download to your phone in the States to host classical concerts in your home. So perhaps in the future people will be having more concerts in their living rooms.
Tell us something about yourself that might surprise us
When I finished school and started university, I saw myself studying many different subjects and I finally ended up choosing Spanish since I really liked the idea of studying literature in a different language. I got to study in Cordoba, Spain for five months, which was an amazing experience. Soon after, I decided to audition for music college.