Shastra is the central hub for musicians who are creating meaningful connections between the great musical traditions of India and the West. The name Shastra derives from the Natya Shastra, the ancient seminal treatise on Indian performing arts, which set the stage for the music, dance and drama that flourishes in India today. As the world becomes increasingly interconnected, musicians from Indian and Western musical backgrounds have chosen to embrace both traditions equally, working between them in unique and innovative ways based on their experience, exposure, and individual aesthetic. At Shastra, we aim to set the stage for this new order of musicians, to create a community of artists who contextualize one anothers’ work, and to share this beautiful, cross-cultural music with audiences around the world.
Shastra hosts an annual Festival that brings together the brightest talents working in this field. Some of these musicians come to us directly from India and were trained by the great Indian masters. Others were born and raised in the West and studied at top conservatories. Still others grew up equally in both worlds, learning Western music and Indian music simultaneously. Shastra welcomes all approaches to collaboration, and cherishes the diversity within this international community.
Shastra also promotes cross-cultural experiences through the arts in educational and community settings. Our Parampara education initiatives bring professional musicians, students, and people of different cultures together, initiating the creative and exploratory process of working between musical traditions.
Additionally, Shastra supports the creation of new cross-cultural music with our Commissioning Project. Our first project intersects with our Parampara initiative, pairing composers Aakash Mittal and Asha Srinivasan with the talented young performers from Face the Music. The performers will have the opportunity to engage in the creative process with two composers who will be composing unique works for them, culminating in two performances in Spring and Fall 2014.
Each of these programs address a central artistic concern of our time, and indeed of every era in human history: connecting cultures in a way that is meaningful.