Indian Classical Music
Pandit Kartik Seshadri is a world-renowned force in Indian Classical Music. As a sitarist, he attracted widespread attention from the age of six when he began performing full-length solos in India. The sitar master is hailed as an “amazingly accomplished” musical powerhouse noted for his music’s “expressive beauty, rich tonal sensibility, and rhythmic intricacy,” praised the Washington Post, while the Times of India noted that Seshadri’s concert was “a show stopper that transported the audience to soak soul deep in his mesmerizing performance.” Songlines Magazine (U.K.) declared his album Sublime Ragas as one of the “Top Ten of the World’s” CD’s, as with his 2004 Raga:Rasa album, further citing him as one of the “world’s greatest sitar players.”
A confluence of multifarious musical influences steeped in the Maihar gharana’s dhrupad & beenkar styles, Seshadri began his initial training with Shri Shankar Rao of the Vishnupur Gharana and further trained and toured worldwide with his acclaimed guru, Pandit Ravi Shankar. Seshadri performs extensively in his homeland and around the world, including the United States, Canada, Europe, Japan, Australia, Mexico and the Middle East. He has played at prestigious venues and events ranging from Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center, the Melbourne International Arts Festival in Australia, the Brighton Festival in U.K., the Ravinia Festival, the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City to the Dover Lane, ITC, Sawai Gandharva Samaroh and Saptak Sammelans in India to name but a few. In 2005 and 2010, Seshadri collaborated with composer Philip Glass and the Brazilian instrumental group UAKTI on the critically acclaimed Orion project. In 2016 he appeared with the Hutchins Consort and in 2017 he was invited to perform before His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama.
Seshadri has received numerous awards and accolades for his contributions to the musical world including his nomination as the “Artist of the Month” by the prestigious Sangeeth Research Academy (SRA) in Kolkata (June 2011) and his 2014 honorary award from the Federation of Indian Associations (FIA) for his “incredible contributions, vision, leadership and expertise in the creative field … and as a true pioneer” of music and art.
Seshadri is also a distinguished composer and educator of Indian Classical Music. His Quartet for a Raga was premiered under the auspices of the Contemporary Music Forum in Washington D.C. And his “Concerto #1 for Sitar and Chamber Orchestra” received its world premiere in San Diego in 2010.
As an educator Kartik Seshadri heads one of the largest programs of Indian Classical Music in the US at the University of California, San Diego. He has been invited as a distinguished guest faculty member at various conservatories, universities and academies around the world: The Banff Centre in Alberta in Canada, Stanford University, the Yehudi Menuhin School of Music in Bath, U.K., and the Sangeeth Research Academy (SRA) in Kolkata, India. In 2009 Seshadri launched Raga : Rasa … Kartik Seshadri’s Center for Indian Classical music and improvisation.
“The festival began with Raga Patdeep rendered with great care on the sitar recital of Kartik Seshadri. The dynamism of the keynotes was enchanting. After a short alap he went on with the gat in eleven beats and took time in the middle and upper octaves with some innovative vistaars and taans. Seshadri then presented Raga Mallikapriya, which is a blend of South Indian ragas like Rishabhpriya, Vachaspati and Charukeshi, playing the gats in teeentaal and ektaal.”
The Telegraph - June 12, 2018
“The soiree’s opening artiste, sitar maestro Kartik Seshadri chose to play the early evening raga Patadeep and followed it up with Mallikapriya.”
The Statesman - March 10, 2018
“Sitar Wizard Kartik Seshadri chose the popular early evening raga, Patadeep and inspired by the perceptive support of tabla maestro Arup Chatterjee, followed it with Mallikapriya, his own creation.”
The Hindu- February 23, 2018
“A world renowned sitarist Kartik Seshadri presented a splendid performance on Friday before the classical music lovers of the city. Seshadri’s initial training began with Shankar Rao, to later become one of the foremost disciples of the legendary sitarist Pandit Ravi Shankar with whom he toured and performed with worldwide. While performing at Antrang Hall, Kartik impressed the audiences as he commenced the evening with Raga Jayth Kalyan. He further maintained the interest of the classical music lover with alap, jod and jhala under the same raga. Kartik then regaled the audiences with his next performance in traditional Carnatic music that took them in the musical feast created by Kartik on stage. He played some of his compositions as well and many other concerts. The performance was mesmerizing.”
The Pioneer - September 14, 2013
“Piety of Indian music is not tuned to dogma, but to faith that truth is not just rational pleasure, but also a mystical reward. Proof was delivered by Kartik Seshadri on Day 5 of Saptak. Maestro Seshadri was the protégé of the immortal Pandit Ravi Shankar. Seshadri’s rendition of the Raga Parmeshwari was potent because it was polished by the perfection of bhakti. Towards the end, Parmeshwari sounds exalted, as if it is rushing towards an assured blessing. In Seshadri’s hands the passage rose with sustained brio.”
Times of India - January 7, 2013
Today’s Greatest Sitar Player?
“A foremost protégé of sitar maestro Ravi Shankar, Kartik Seshadri has very rapidly emerged as one of the world’s best sitar players, bringing tremendous artistry and a unique personal expression to India’s favorite string instrument. Seshadri plays a fabulously lyrical version of it.
Songlines -- March 2012
“The Masters of Indian Music series began with an evening of virtuosic music by Kartik Seshadri accompanied by Arup Chattopadhyay on tabla. With skill heavily dependent on improvisation, this piece was a raga celebrating the coming of spring. It was like listening to magic, a story that unfolded before your ears with narrative and plot: a composition that brought you on a journey to a place on the other side of the globe. Kartik remained calm and almost in a meditative state. His body shape-shifted into a mystical figure. Kartik had truly been touched by the gods. The second piece grew with its story, and Arup’s tabla playing joined in as a second voice. It was remarkable, hearing this melody from a drum; the interactions that the two musicians had while composing intricate polymeters and polyrhythms and then joining in unison for exactly three or four beats was synchronicity on a whole other level. A beautiful evening of transcendent music, thank you Kartik and Arup for sharing your life’s work – my hands touch both your feet in reverence.”
Village Voice - February 10, 2012
“The showstopper was the heart-stirring recital by sitarist Kartik Seshadri. Seshadri’s ethereal notes at the beginning of his performance followed by a leisurely alap transported audiences into a blissful plane enabling audience to soak deep in his mesmerizing performance. Not a whisper was heard in the jam-packed hall all throughout the recital.”
DNAIndia.com - January 8, 2011
Sitar and tabla in perfect sympathy
“Kartik Seshadri is probably the best sitar player of his generation and is considered a leading exponent of this most popular of Indian classical instruments. He is renowned for numerous international collaborations, ranging from the Brazilian group UAKTI to the composer Philip Glass, as well as leading one of the largest programmes of Indian classical music in the US at the University of California. On this disc he employs an ancient beenkar (veena player) style for an exquisite ‘Raga Kaushi Kanada’ – a composite of ragas ‘Malkauns’ and ‘Darbari Kanada’ – but the album reaches its highpoint on the second track with ‘Raga Mishra Gara’, which also used to be a regular at Ravi Shankar’s recitals. Beginning with an aochar (a very brief alap, or introduction to the basic melodic outline), Seshadri renders it in a thumri (light-classical and lyrical) mode, which seems to be a natural home for this raga. Anindo Chatterjee’s tabla – extremely polished as always, with every syllable of percussion delicately nuanced yet distinctly clear – greatly enhances this remarkable performance and Seshadri’s own appreciation for his accompanist is clearly audible. Seshadri dedicates this album to his mother who, he says, taught him that ‘tenderness and strength’ come from the same place in the heart. And, if this work is anything to go by, it would appear that Seshadri has definitely taken that lesson on.”
Songlines - March 2010
“The sitar and the Biram harp from Niger seem to share little in common. By juxtaposing them, this concert highlighted the differences between the sitar’s microtonal strings and technical sophistication, and the pentatonic wooden instrument traditionally played by fishing nomads. Kartik Seshadri’s two long, intense, improvised ragas included some breathtakingly complex improvisations that summoned eclectic images, with sparkling Diwali references, at times recalling his mentor Ravi Shankar. The performers’ closing union revealed contrasts and connections, and let to astonishing moments, when musicians from different worlds synchronized through richly varied sacred music.”
Songlines - January/February 2010
“Kartik Seshadri’s two long, intense, improvised ragas included some breathtakingly complex improvisations that summoned eclectic images, with sparkling Diwali references and, at times, recalling his mentor Ravi Shankar.”
Songlines - October 16, 2009
“One of the most fascinating aspects of Indian classical music is the inherent paradox that lies at its heart. Practitioners of this sacred, incredibly disciplined artform spend a lifetime coming to grips with its technical demands – yet its performance is almost entirely improvised. Kartik Seshadri takes this in-the-moment creativity to its limit, selecting the ragas he will perform only after he has arrived on stage. The master sitarist opened with a late-evening raga, Maru Behag, establishing a mood of introspective contemplation. The exquisite sonorities of the sitar were revealed in passages where ingle-note lines gathered like raindrops to form a shimmering pool, where a halo of overtones radiated from the sitar’s sympathetic strings. The energy built as Seshadri introduced more pungent tones before inviting table player Arup Chattopadhyay to join him. There was an almost visceral quality creating genuine excitement as the pair surged in unison runs to a dramatic conclusion. A beguiling South Indiana raga Simhendramadhyam followed, Seshadri bending notes to produce an undulating effect that conjured up images of snake charmers and translucent fabrics fluttering in a hot desert breeze. The final raga, Mishra Piloo, was performed in thumri style. Seshadri articulated the melody while Chattopadhyay’s rhythms became increasingly insistent. The two musicians engaged in a thrilling percussive duel, trading phrases with playful virtuosity, the galloping in tandem to an ecstatic finale.”
The Age (Melbourne) - October 11, 2008
The Riches of Ragas
“On Friday at the Freer Gallery, emotions ran deep and colors blossomed when Sitarist Kartik Seshadri played three ragas in North Indian Style. He teased out pensive melodies rhapsodically. In the opening solo, bending low notes slowly with the intimate expression of a vocalist. The clear audience favorite came last. Seshadri explained that "Mishra Kafi" was from a group of ragas known for their lyricism and romance. The mood here was sensual, even blissful. Melodies sang sweetly, with the piece ending in an ecstatic cloud of swirling notes.”
In Philip Glass’ Orion:
“Glass met Ravi Shankar, whose music was breathtakingly played on sitar by Kartik Seshadri. Given the fresh exuberance of this segment, Shankar still has the power, after 40 years, to set Glass on new paths.”
Los Angeles Times
Seshadri proves sitar master with intense strumming
“If the power of Indian music seems almost supernatural, then sitar master Kartik Seshadri must be a sorcerer. In his performance he proved his ability to harness and control every nuance. The raga began with a slow, expressive section. Kartik adeptly rendered the serious mood of the piece. This exposition was followed by more solo sections, each gaining in speed and intensity, creating a wash of sound that filled the hall. Indian music has a power that touches the whole being. At its height the music surrounds you completely and tangibly. The standing ovation at the end brought musicians back for another bow. Kartik’s creativity and pure force of expression reach across all barriers.”