Sangita's musical career reflects a personal global consciousness and delight in the wonderful variety of artistic expression we have available to us in today's world.
The sarod is a multi-stringed lute from North India. The sarod has been the centerpiece of Sangita's musical journey. Her rigorous formal studies occurred between 1969 and 1985 with classical North Indian maestro Ali Akbar Khan. Vocal training is a major component of classical Indian music study, and Sangita found herself combining vocals with the sarod early on. The desire to establish a healthy sitting posture for singing with the sarod led Sangita to commission instrument maker Alan Perlman to build a more narrow-bodied electric sarod.
As of today (August 2010) Sangita would most likely describe herself as an East-West singer/songwriter. The spiritual nature of classical North Indian music forms a foundation for Sangita's songs which cover themes of nature, mythic characters from many cultures, and stories from her travels. Her work in New Thought churches has given rise to more specifically spiritual themes.
Sangita's desire to share her music in a workshop setting has resulted in Trance Chanting classes. These classes are experiential in the fashion of the Indian oral learning system. The material consists of traditional sacred chants from around the world and some original chants as well. The beauty of chanting lies in the healing effect of internalizing sound vibrations that have been specifically developed to maximize mindfulness on emotional, spiritual and physical levels. The class also inspires the joy of creative expression when chanting moves into improvisation.
CASTING SPELLS MUSIC PUBLISHING CO.
Sangita has received more than 10 awards for musical composition from the ASCAP Foundation. She was also the recipient of a Subito grant from the American Composers Forum. The musical collaboration with Swiss clarinetist Hermann Buhler inspired many compositions, some featured on their Sojourn CD. Sojourn toured Europe for more than a decade and also received Swiss support for a 17-concert tour in Mexico.
Yakshi, the duo of Sangita and Mihai Manoliu, produced a CD of compositions and improvisations that draw from the best of the East and West. Care was taken to preserve the rasa of the Indian ragas, "rasa" meaning "juice" which refers to the emotional power of the raga. This was done by Mihai's use of modified tunings for the guitar. At the same time the inherent chordal structure of the guitar lends an harmonic underpinning that is lacking in strictly Indian music. The sarod, at times composed and at times improvised, is given free rein to develop the mood of each piece.
PLANET TREE MUSIC FESTIVALS-LAWRENCE BALL
The Planet Tree Music Festival producer and pianist/composer/Londoner Lawrence Ball and Sangita duo perform totally improvised music based on Indian raga scales. The similar musical sensibilities of the artists and the timbral similarities of the sarod and piano provide a fertile ground for this music. Their last performance occurred at the Planet Tree Music Festival at Pete Townsend's studio on the outskirts of London. The duo has also performed on both coasts of the US.
YEARNING With Robert Rich
The collaboration with electronic artist Robert Rich resulted in the Yearning CD on the Hearts of Space/Fathom label (Stephen Hill). Yoga Journal voted this recording as one of the top CDs for meditation and yoga in the 20th century. The combination of the alap (unmetered free rhythm) on sarod inside a powerful electronic soundscape creates a unified field between the ancient Hindustani tradition and modern electronic virtuosity.
Sangita began her Indian studies on the tabla, the tuneful and and sophisticated drums played in traditional North Indian classical music. She studied from Phil Ford, Shankar Ghosh and Zakir Hussain. She has enjoyed applying tabla technique to other musical contexts such as drumming in the Axis Mundi trance dance band where she played the electronic HandSonic for many years. She led drum circles for several years in senior centers that were sponsored by the College of Marin. She plays tabla with mandolinist Phil Lawrence and can be heard on the Mandolin Mandalas CD. Sangita played for a year in Lou Harrison's gamelan orchestra at Mills College, and studied more gamelan in Bali in 1980. In 2010 Sangita began learning the bodhran, the drum that accompanies Irish music.
Sangita has had a long musical collaboration with shakuhachi player Stephen Ross. They have performed several seasons in Hawaii as well as a month tour in England and other locations in Europe and California.
These Still Waters, Sangita's collaboration with New York shakuhachi player Genji Ito was released in the early 90's.
Sangita performed on the cruise ship, the SS Universe, for 2 seasons, playing meditation concerts for passengers during the tours of the Inland Passage in Alaska.
Performances for the Gorbachov Foundation conferences at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco.
Asian Art Museum in San Francisco 2 times.
Performed with Charnett Moffett and Jana Herzen at the Harmony Festival.
Vocal/sarod collaboration with Josephine Doig in "Reclaiming the Soul" concerts that occurred on the solstices and equinoxes for 2 years.
Performed in 2 concerts in the "Music for People and Thingamajigs" festival, one with Yakshi and one with avant garde instrument builder/performer Tom Nunn.
Conducted the musicians in Tom Nunn's orchestra involving all original metallic instruments built by Tom.
Premiere of "In Tilak Kamod" with the San Francisco Symphonia.
Played in Polly Moller's "Genesis" orchestra and Aurora Josephson's orchestra for 14 women.
Concerts with poet Genny Lim and the Pan Asian Orchestra with Karen Stackpole and Loren Dempster.
Freight and Salvage.
Yoshis East Bay.
Ishtar trio with Nicole Milner and Doug Carroll.
Jatanada duo with pianist Patrick Fitzgerald.
Collaboration with electronic musician Jay Yarnall.
Played tabla in Molly Axtmann's score for silent film.
Performed in a cave building in Cappadocia Turkey.