In addition to being a composer, I am also a Co-Artistic Director of Shastra, an organization that cultivates the work of musicians who connect Indian and Western musical traditions. Last Sunday, we hosted the first Shastra Festival at (le) poisson rouge in NYC. It was an incredible evening, featuring many talented musicians and ensembles that bring different elements of Indian and Western music into their work to create their own unique blend of these traditions.
Artists included Rez Abbasi (guitar), Rafiq Bhatia (guitar), Michael Harrison (composer and pianist), Kimball Gallagher (pianist), Shirish Korde (composer), Aakash Mittal (saxophone and composer), Payton MacDonald (Dhrupad trance singer and percussionist), Shawn Mativetsky (tabla), Rajna Swaminathan (mridangam), Shankar Tucker (clarinet) and Dan Weiss (drum set). We also collaborated with the incredible musicians of Face the Music, NYC’s premier new music ensemble for teenagers. We commissioned two new works, from Aakash Mittal and Asha Srinivasan which were premiered by the students of FTM at the Festival. The festival also marked the New York premier of my String Quartet (Ragamala) by my incredible colleagues Melanie Clapies, Jessica Oddie, Lucy Caplan and Yan Levionnois.
Two years ago, Payton MacDonald and I started Shastra because we wanted to create a central hub for musicians who write meaningful and engaging Indian/Western crossover music to engage with one another and contextualize each other’s work. After years of hard work, we were so excited to see how much this organization has grown, and we are already deep into planning for the next two years of events!
For more information on Shastra, please visit: htp://www.shastramusic.com