Arjun Verma, sitar
with Sudhakar Vaidyanathan, tabla
When Ravi Shankar and Ali Akbar Khan first began touring the West in the 1950’s, North Indian Classical Music was little known outside of India. By the time these two musical emissaries finished their illustrious careers, North Indian Classical was firmly established on the worldwide stage as one of the great musical traditions of the world, and it had indelibly affected countless listeners and musicians throughout the world—influencing the likes of The Beatles, Stevie Wonder, Jimi Hendrix, The Rolling Stones, The Byrds, Truth Hurts, M.I.A, John Coltrane, Norah Jones, John Mclaughlin, and many, many others.
Arjun Verma is a sitarist trained by Maestro Ali Akbar Khan. As a child, Arjun learned from his father, sitarist Roop Verma, himself a disciple of Ali Akbar Khan and Ravi Shankar. As a teenager, Arjun was very fortunate to study with Ali Akbar Khan for eight years, and since the Maestro’s passing in 2009, with his son Alam Khan. The combination of these influences results in a style encompassing the profound as well as exhilarating aspects of North Indian classical music. Verma is joined by Sudhakar Vaidyanathan on tabla in a performance of North Indian classical music.
Arjun has performed around the world, including noteworthy performances with St. Louis Symphony, Houston Grand Opera, and at Prague Castle, Pattee Arena, the Fillmore, and at the United Nations in Geneva. Arjun has performed with renowned musicians in many genres, including Pandit Swapan Chaudhuri, Alam Khan, Bob Weir, Pandit Sharda Sahai, Ustad Shabbir Nisar, Nitin Mitta, Kai Eckhardt, Krishna Das, Anirban Roy Chowdhury, and Salar Nader. Arjun’s music has received critical acclaim from leading publications, including The New York Times, Sruti Magazine, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and the San Francisco Chronicle.
North Indian Classical Music, one of the deep and sophisticated musical traditions of the world, has a large repertoire of hundreds of traditional melodic structures (raagas), with thousands of songs and instrumental pieces composed in each. The raagas were created by various musical masters over the course of many centuries of musical development in India, and each one expresses a particular collection of emotions. Some raagas are over a millennium old, while others were composed in modern times. Some are very light, whimsical, and romantic, while others are extremely brooding, melancholy, or contemplative. Each raaga has certain defining musical features such as characteristic phrases, melodic ornaments, ascending/descending patterns, and strong/weak notes. But within this structure, the performer has the freedom to improvise and weave his/her own unique musical tapestry.