Sitarist Arjun Verma is joined by Nilan Chaudhuri on tabla in a performance of North Indian Classical music, one of the deepest and most sophisticated musical traditions of the world.
with Rhiannon Ledwell, tanpura
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.
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.
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. 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.
Nilan Chaudhuri has spent his life immersed in the traditional of Indian classical percussion. Initiated into table at the age of five by his father, Swapan Chaudhuri, Nilan has performed as a tabla soloist and accompanist for nearly twenty years. He’s shared the stage with some of Hindustani Classical music’s greatest treasures, like maestros Alam Khan, Shujaat Khan, Ramesh Misra, and Amjad Ali Khansaib, at venues such as Carnegie Hall, The Fillmore, Fox Theater, and San Francisco War Memorial & Performing Arts Center. In addition to maintaining a busy performing schedule, Nilan teaches table throughout the Bay Area as a faculty member at the Ali Akbar College of Music in San Rafael, and as the Director of Percussion at Chitresh Das Institute in San Mateo.