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Rajeev Taranath

Trio brings music of North India to Middlebury's Concert Hall on October 17

October 2, 2008

MIDDLEBURY, Vt. ? An accomplished trio of North Indian classical musicians will perform at the Middlebury College Kevin P. Mahaney '84 Center for the Arts Concert Hall on Friday, Oct. 17, at 8 p.m. Their traditional Hindustani style of music reflects disciplined imagination and a devotion to the improvisatory nature of the music, and this performance will feature rare opportunity to see a fairly unusual combination of instruments with Kartik Seshadri on the sitar, Rajeev Taranath on the sarod and Arup Chattopadhyay on the tabla. 

The sitar is a long, hollow-necked lute with one or two gourd resonators. It has two main playing strings, two variable drone strings, two fixed high-pitched drone strings and up to thirteen resonance strings. An important part of the playing technique includes pulling the strings to produce slides and ornaments.

The sarod, believed to have originated in 16th century India, is similar to a lute, with a hollow body carved from a single piece of wood. The belly of the sarod is covered in goatskin and the fingerboard is a smooth fretless steel plate, which provides minimal friction to the sliding fingers. Twenty-five metal strings carry the melody and provide emphasis, rhythm and resonance. 

The tabla is a set of two drums. The smaller drum, called the dayan, is usually made of rosewood and played with the fingers and palm of the right hand. The larger base drum, called the bayan, is usually made of metal and is played with the fingers, palms and wrist of the left hand. The tabla is the traditional accompaniment in a classical recital.

Seshadri is a sitar virtuoso, composer, educator and the foremost disciple of famed sitarist Ravi Shankar. He was hailed as a child prodigy when he began performing solo recitals at the age of six. In 1965 he met Shankar, who was a profound musical influence in his life. Seshadri studies the distinctive and pure styles of the Senia, Beenkar and Dhrupad traditions. He performs extensively as a soloist throughout India and abroad. Recent solo engagements include New York's Lincoln and Kennedy Centers, Vancouver Jazz Festival and Ravi Shankar's 75th birthday celebration. His performances are noted for their expressive beauty, rich tonal sensibility and rhythmic intricacy. Most recently, he collaborated with the noted composer Philip Glass.

Taranath is one of the world's leading sarod musicians. A student of Ali Akbar Khan, he combines the depth and rigor of Hindustani tradition with an inspired imagination and emotional intensity. Hailed a prodigy in vocal music, he trained with his father and other eminent musicians and was a concert and radio artist before the age of 20. He tours extensively throughout India, Australia, Europe, Yemen and the United States. He has composed music for internationally honored Indian films and received the Indian government's highest award in the arts, the Sangeet Natak Academi Award, in 1999. He demonstrates striking imaginative power, technical excellence and emotional range. He was a Ford Foundation scholar from 1989-1992 and a member of the music department at the California Institute of the Arts in Los Angeles from 1995-2005.

Under the tutelage of the world renowned tabla maestro Shankar Ghosh, Chattopadhyay has established himself as both an accompanist and soloist. He began his training at the age of six with his father, the eminent Pankaj Chattopadhyay, and later studied under Ghosh, with whom he continues to train. He is affiliated with All India Radio and Doordarshan Television, and he records and performs frequently for the Indian broadcasting network. He has accompanied leading sitarists, including Ravi Shankar and Deepak Choudhury. Since 1997, he has toured extensively with sitarist Kartik Seshadri in performances throughout the U.S., Canada and India.

The performance is sponsored by the Middlebury College Performing Arts Series. The Mahaney Center for the Arts Concert Hall is located on South Main Street (Route 30). Tickets are $20 for general admission and $15 for seniors. For tickets and more information, contact the Middlebury College Box Office at 802-443-6433 or