Arjun K. Verma
with Abhijit Banerjee, tabla, and Nazan Aktas, tanpura.
Wednesday, March 22, 2023 at 7:30 p.m.
Willamette University’s Rogers Music Center, Hudson Concert Hall
In advance of his Wednesday, March 22nd DAS concert, sitar master Arjun K. Verma will give a special presentation during the Tuesday (March 21st) 11:30 a.m. music department's weekly convocation in the Hudson Concert Hall. All are welcome to attend and there is no charge.
Arjun K. Verma, sitarist, was trained by the legendary Maestro Ali Akbar Khan.
With over three decades of performance experience, at venues including the United Nations (Geneva), the Fillmore (San Francisco), Fox Theater (Oakland), Pattee Arena (Monterey), the New School (New York), Birmingham Museum of Art (Birmingham), Prague Castle (Prague), and NBC Bay Area television (San Jose), Arjun has emerged with a unique voice on the sitar—both within the tradition of North Indian Classical Music, and through his innovative cross-genre collaborations.
Arjun has spent his entire life steeped in the tradition of North Indian Classical Music. The son of internationally performing sitarist Roop Verma, who was a disciple of Ali Akbar Khan and Ravi Shankar, Arjun began learning sitar from his father at age five.
As a teenager, Arjun was deeply inspired by the preeminent sarode maestro, Ali Akbar Khan, and he ultimately moved to the San Francisco Bay Area to study directly with Ali Akbar Khan for eight years. Since the Maestro’s passing in 2009, Arjun has continued his training under the able guidance of Ali Akbar Khan’s son, Alam Khan. Arjun has also received guidance from Smt. Annapurna Devi.
As a musician of the Maihar Gharana (style) of Hindustani classical music, Arjun’s playing is based on the music of Maestro Ali Akbar Khan. He has developed innovative sitar techniques inspired by the Maestro’s style, and is also influenced by sitarist Nikhil Banerjee. Arjun’s playing also incorporates musical elements drawn from his long apprenticeship with his father, Roop Verma. The combination of these influences results in a style encompassing the deeply contemplative as well as the exhilarating elements of Indian Music.
Arjun began performing at the age of seven, and has played concerts in the United States, Europe, and India, including performances with Pandit Swapan Chaudhuri, Sri Alam Khan, Pandit Sharda Sahai, Ustad Shabbir Nisar, Bob Weir, Salar Nader, George Brooks, Nilan Chaudhuri, Indranil Mallick, Anirban Roy Chowdhury, and members of the Houston and St. Louis Symphonies.
Arjun has performed in front of dignitaries including former United Nations Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali and spiritual leader Morari Bapu, and has been awarded a Mosaic Silicon Valley commissioning grant to compose for Philharmonia Baroque (2020—Sangam Arts), a Creative Work Fund grant (2018—Haas Foundation), and a Shenson Fellowship (2007—San Francisco Foundation) to support his work.
Combining western classical music with Indian classical music, Arjun was the featured sitar soloist for the world premieres of Jack Perla’s River of Light (2014—Houston Grand Opera), Shalimar the Clown (2016—Opera Theatre St. Louis), and Arjun’s own Bach in Bengal (2022—Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra).
As a composer, Arjun has written commissioned works for documentary film, opera, and live performing arts, and has arranged numerous works of Indian classical music for ensembles of both Indian and non-Indian instrumentation.
In 2021, Arjun released a solo album, EPIPHANIES, exploring his very personal relationship with the sitar and Indian classical music. Recorded with cutting-edge studio technology, this album was released in HD and Ambisonic (surround) formats, raising the bar for the sound of the sitar.
Arjun has also recorded with GRAMMY-winning jazz arranger & pianist John Beasley, in addition to numerous recordings for Disney television.
Arjun’s music has received critical acclaim from leading publications, including the New York Times, Times of India, Sruti Magazine, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and the San Francisco Chronicle.
In addition to performing, Arjun teaches sitar and North Indian Classical Music at the Ali Akbar College of Music and the East-West School of Music.
Abhijit Banerjee, tabla
Considered among the front ranking tabla players from India, Abhijit Banerjee is one of the most sought-after creative artists in the realm of Indian classical music. With decades of professional experience Abhijit has crafted a unique style and creative approach which has brought him accolades and awards from all over the world for his sensitivity, skill and deep sense of musicality. Apart from his contributions to Indian music he has left his mark in a diverse field of crossover music both as a performer and composer.
Nazan Aktas, tanpura
Nazan is a graduate of Sonoma State University, with a Bachelor of Music degree with a double concentration in Performance and Jazz Studies. She has studied and performed many different styles of music and has been attending Ali Akbar College of Music since 2015.