Shastra is a community of artists dedicated to creating meaningful, cross-cultural music that connects great musical traditions of India and the West. Through festivals, recordings, educational events, and commissioning initiatives, we are a nexus for musicians to share their artistry and bring this music to the world.

Announcing the 2015 Shastra Festival!

After months of planning, we are excited to finally announce the lineup for our inaugural Shastra Festival! The festival will be held at (le) poisson rouge in New York City on Sunday, April 26, 2015. The festival will have three sets (4PM, 6PM and 8PM) each packed with innovative cross-cultural music that explores the connections between Indian and Western musical traditions.

We can’t wait to see you at this exciting event! Please visit our Festival page for more information. And don’t forget to follow Shastra on Facebook and Instagram , and sign up for our mailing list (in the sidebar) to get the most up-to-date information on the Festival!

For our audience outside of the New York Area, the entire festival will be livestreamed for you! Stay tuned: more information on this soon.

buy ticketsShastra-Poster-041915

Naan-Functional Harmony: Exploring the Intersections between Carnatic Music and Jazz

Check out, a new site created by Alex Pinto, which explores  new hybrid approaches to Jazz and Carnatic music. Alex recently finished a Fulbright-Nehru Fellowship, where he went deeper into the relationships between Indian and Western music.

“This video below demonstrates a classic rhythmic displacement exercise in Carnatic music. In the 8 beat cycle Adi Thalum, the phrase Ta Ka Di Mi Ta Ka Ju Nu is displaced by a 16th note via the phrase Ta Ka Ta Ki Ta, a cell of five 16th notes. Watch the video and attempt to figure out the exercise. If you need help, check out the attached pdf, available to download.”



Falu: Tarana

Inventive and versitale Hindustani-trained singer, Falu, is “internationally recognized for her rare ability to seamlessly blend a signature modern inventive style with a formidable Indian classically-shaped vocal talent.” Trained in the tradition of the Jaipur Gharana, under Smt. Kishori Amonkar, she finds unique and beautiful ways to bring her art into a Western context.

Check out her take on the traditional Hindustani form of Tarana:

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Sachal Jazz Ensemble collaborates with Jazz at Lincoln Center

You might know the Pakistan-based Sachal Jazz Orchestra from their famous video of Dave Brubeck’s Take Five that received over 800K views on YouTube. This summer, Sachal took it one step further, in a new collaboration with Wynton Marsalis and Jazz at Lincoln Center.

“In this ground-breaking collaboration, the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis and the Sachal Jazz Ensemble will perform new arrangements, blending the sonorities of modern and ancient instruments and using the jazz form to integrate American values of blues and swing with sophisticated and highly-evolved Eastern music traditions.”

The concert took place at the Barbican, in London — we’re hoping they take this collaboration to other countries around the world, too! Read more about their collaboration here.


Sachal Jazz Ensemble collaborates with Jazz at Lincoln Center at The Barbican


Payton MacDonald on Relevant Tones

payton-macdonald-pic4-460x300Shastra Co-Artistic Director Payton MacDonald speaks about his multifaceted relationship with Hindustani classical music in an hour-long interview on 98.7 WFMT’s Relevant Tones. Hear about Payton’s influences as well as excerpts of some of his work here.

Payton also speaks about his experience building Shastra and his vision for the organization towards the end of the interview, around 57:00 – take a listen!

Fulcrum Point premiers Param Vir’s “Raga Fields” and more

Fulcrum Point New Music Project, based in Chicago, put on an exciting evening of new Indian/Western crossover music on November 1, 2014. The performance featured the premier of Param Vir‘s new sarod concerto, Raga Fields, with soloist Soumik Datta. Soumik checks in from Rio:

Vir says of his work:

“The diverse sides of the mix uniquely stretch the comfort zones of the different traditions to reach to the ‘otherness’ of their counterpart, and to both reflect and confront each other in brilliant and sometimes jagged exchanges. Modal, tonal and atonal harmonic fields embed and merge into fleeting Raga­‐like allusions, all of them encased in rich western contemporary counterpoint and orchestration.

“The work is a mirror to the contemporary world where monolithic cultures have given way to a melting pot of possibilities drawn from everything and everywhere. In this distorting mirror of ever-­‐present otherness, we are sometimes challenged to view one another in new light, thereby discovering our common ground and embracing our differences.”  (read the full article here)

Vir’s concerto was featured as part of a diverse array of approaches to Indian/Western collaboration, from ‘Himmat’/Mingus in Miyanki Blues performed by Kalyan Pathak’s Jazz Mata, the Midwest Premiere of Shirish Korde‘s Lalit, a duet for flute and tabla, as well as the World Premiere of Mara by Pranita Jain and Kalapriya Dance.