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24 September 2014

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Raga Nova
Jesse Bannister and Dharambir Singh - Raga Nova
Jesse Bannister and Dharambir Singh

Dharambir Singh and Jesse Bannister are 'Raga Nova'.

They met at the Leeds College of Music, first as teacher/pupil but then as co-performers.

audio Listen to an interview with Dharambir Singh

Listen to an interview with Jesse Bannister

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How did you come to this music?

Dharambir Singh: I belong to a musical family and was inspired to learn music by my uncle Avtar Singh- a Tabla player. I started Sitar at the age of thirteen with Prof Sita Ram in Amritsar in Punjab, India. I moved on to learn from Prof Narinder Nirula of Patiala in Punjab and later to learn with the maestro Ustad Vilayat Khan. The link with the Ustad was made for me by my religious mentor Satguru Jagjit Singh Ji the reliogious leader of the Namdhari branch of Sikhs.

Jesse Bannister: I was born in London in1971 listening to a whole world of music my dad used to play from morning till night.

I came to Leeds in 1992 to do a Graduate Diploma in Jazz at the Leeds College of Music having been inspired by the sound of john Coltrane and Horace Silver.

During this time I became interested in Indian Music through my study with sitarist Dharambir Singh.

I have been working at The Leeds College of Music teaching western musicians on undergraduate and post graduate programmes

I also teach 'Latin Percussion',

Click here to listen to an nterview with Dharambir Singh
Click here to listen to an interview with Jesse Bannister

Where do you play?

Dharambir Singh: I have given solo performances in England, Europe and USA. I uasually perform in small and medium scale arts venues. I also play with Martin Speake - the Jazz saxophonist and peform together in venues across the country. I am also working on a project called Free Spirits with Jazz Action based in Newcastle. I have played for eight years with the Euro Asian group Shiva Nova.

Jesse Bannister: As a professional performer I have worked with:

" The Liverpool Philharmonic with Indian soloists
" The City of London Sinfonia with World Musicians
" With Priti Paintal's Shiva Nova (including concerts at the Purcell Room, Queen Elizabeth Hall and Jazz Cafe)
" British Khatak and Tabla duo Sonia and Sarwar Sabri.
" Bharatyanatyam Dancer Chitralekar Bolar
" India's renowned percussionists Siva Raman and Harishankar

In January 2000 I made my first musical trip to India where I stayed in Calcutta with Rajeeb Chakraborty, a sarode player who has distinguished himself throughout the U.S and Europe.

About the featured piece of music - Varta

Dharambir Singh: Varta was an outcome of my work at Leeds College Of Music. I have been experimenting with music based on the Indian concept of Ragas.

This piece is based on the popular morning Raga Ahir Bhairav. The melody came out of a group work I was doing couple of years back with my Guitar Students.

The idea came out of taking four musical figures from the Raga and create melodies based on these. The melody forms the basis for improvisations by Sitar, Saxophone and Tabla.

Music is strictly based on the modal concept around the notes of Raga Ahir Bhairav.

The Tabla provides a more light classical rhythmic feel on a cycle of eight beats.

Click here to listen to Dharambir talk about his composition


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