Visiting Artists

Visiting Artists
Freddie Bryant and Shubhendra Rao

Poster by HVB Design

Poster by HVB Design

The Williams College Department of Music presents guitarist Freddie Bryant and sitaristShubhendra Rao on Sunday, Oct. 27 at 3:00 p.m., in Brooks-Rogers Recital Hall on the college campus. The event is free and open to the public.

Guitarist Freddie Bryant, and sitarist Shubhendra Rao appear at Williams as part of the Ernest Brown World Music Series that brings musicians from across the globe to share their musical talents with the Williams College community. The series is named for Professor Emeritus Ernest D. Brown, who taught at Williams from 1988 to 2011. Joining Shubhendra Rao are Saskia Rao-de Haas on Indian cello and Harshad Kanetkar on tabla. Mr. Bryant is joined by percussionist Keita Ogawa.

Mr. Bryant and Mr. Rao share a very special and unique musical experience. The soul of their music lives in a spontaneous energy that crosses cultural lines. By fusing elements of Indian classical music, employing American jazz concepts, and combining written forms with improvisational traditions, they explore ever expanding musical possibilities. Finding a musical collaborator in the Indian tabla player Mr. Kanetkar, the group has a percussionist versed in Indian rhythm. Ms. Rao-de Haas’s Indian cello gives the ensemble a deep resonance that contrasts with the timbres of the sitar and guitar.

About Freddie Bryant
Freddie Bryant received a master’s degree in classical guitar from the Yale School of Music and is in demand in the New York jazz and Brazilian scenes, where he has worked with Elaine Elias, Tom Harrell and many others. He currently is a member of Ben Riley’s Monk Legacy Septet, the Mingus Orchestra and leads his own groups, Trio del Sol and Kaleidoscope. Mr. Bryant has six CDs as a leader: Live Grooves…Epic Tales; Trio del Sol; Brazilian Rosewood; Boogaloo Brasileiro; Live at Smoke; and Take Your Dance into Battle. He has toured 50 countries and collaborated with musicians from a variety of backgrounds, including Indian classical musicians, African singers, oud players, traditional Arab groups and klezmer bands. In 2006, Mr. Bryant spent a week in Cuba, performing and working with other musicians. As an impassioned educator, he has taught jazz to all ages around the world. Freddie Bryant is on the faculties of Berklee College of Music and Prins Claus Conservatory in Groningen, Holland.

About Shubhendra Rao
Shubhendra Rao was born in Mysore city in the state of Karnataka in Southern India. From a very young age, Shubhendra showed great talent for music. His father, the late N. R. Rama Rao (who was one of the earliest and closest disciples of Pandit Ravi Shankar,) initiated him into the intricacies of the sitar. His mother, Nagaratna, is a trained Saraswati Veena player. Growing up in a house where there was music all the time, it was natural for him to pick up an instrument. Shubhendra’s parents always told him, that even before he could talk, he could sing musical notes.

After his first lesson from his guru, Shubhendra continued to visit him in different cities in India to pursue his musical education. He recorded the lessons and then practiced them on his own, trying  to imbibe the soul of those teachings – a process that continued for nearly ten years until 1984. It was a milestone year in Shubhendra’s life as it was also the year when he moved to Delhi to live with and learn from his guru in the true ‘guru-shishya’ tradition. The years that followed were a period of introspective and creative metamorphosis. He tried to build in a discipline within himself, practicing from anything between eight to twelve hours every day. His guru nurtured his talents, and gave him deep insights into what it entailed to become a complete artist, as only he could.

An important part of learning was accompanying his guru on stage for solo concerts and orchestras, both within the country and abroad. In 1987 Shubhendra gave his first solo concert in Bangalore, and since then has gone on to establish himself as one of the distinguished instrumentalists of his generation. One of India’s leading artists today, Shubhendra has performed at some of the most prestigious venues like The Carnegie Hall and on Broadway in New York, at the Theatre de la ville in Paris, the WOMAD festival in Guernsey England, the National Arts Festival in South Africa.