Electronic Press Kit – Akshara Music Ensemble

Flip through the pages of our press kit or request a pdf copy. Contact Bala Skandan for ensemble performance bookings, lecture demonstrations, workshops and more!

Bala Skandan – aksharamusic@gmail.com | Ph: (917) 208-2424
Building new forms on the foundations of Indian classical music

Mridangist, composer, and educator Bala Skandan formed Akshara Music Ensemble in 2008, assembling New York’s strongest voices in Indian classical music to explore the crossroads of the traditional and the contemporary. Skandan’s original music expresses classical Carnatic (South Indian) ragas and talas through the forms of world music, jazz improvisation, and modern composition, creating a music as dynamic and diverse as New York City itself. With an instrumentation ranging from hammered dulcimer, violins, and cello to mridangam, kanjira, and bansuri, Akshara’s music utilizes a broad sonic palette that highlights its members’ backgrounds in Carnatic, Hindustani, Western Classical, and Folk music. Through agile melody, propulsive percussion, and energetic ensemble interplay, they craft a hybrid music of uncommon beauty and rigor.

Akshara has presented work sponsored by some of New York’s leading arts institutions and music venues, including The Rubin Museum of Art, Lyric Chamber Music Society, Cornelia St. Café and Rockwood Music Hall. In addition to their musical performances, Akshara is active in composing and performing new music to accompany classical dance productions, teaching workshops and masterclasses to music students, and bringing the richness of Indian classical traditions to audiences of initiates and neophytes alike.

THE ENSEMBLE
Bala Skandan – mridangam (percussion), konakkol (vocal percussion) | Arun Ramamurthy – violin | MaxZT – hammered dulcimer | Jay Gandhi – bansuri (Hindustani flute) | Nitin Mitta – tabla (percussion) | Trina Basu – violin | Dave Eggar – Cello | Amali Premawardhana – cello

SELECT PERFORMANCES
2016 Drive East Festival, Ellen Stewart Theatre, New York, NY
Lyric Chamber Music Society, Kociuszcko Foundation, New York, NY
Ragas Live Festival, NYC
Residency Series, Rockwood Music Hall, New York, NY
Viva la Vinyl Festival, Boston, MA
Juilliard School of Music, New York, NY
Cornelia Street Café, New York NY
St Lawrence University, Canton, NY

ORIGINAL COMPOSITIONS
Mohana Blues – a haunting melody based on the popular scale Mohana
Opus in Five – An intricate piece blending south Indian melody rhythm
Sa – named after the first note in Indian classical music
Mind the Gap – a dynamic piece that explores silence as part of music
Urban Kriti – blending urban sounds with a traditional Indian scale