Dubbed a "local treasure" by SF Classical Voice, and "a magnet for local Indian classical musicians" by the SF Chronicle, Gautam Tejas Ganeshan sings classical Carnatic music with distinction, innovation, and an inimitable personal style. He has galvanized the local scene, his compelling musicality and unique approach enabling him to inflect a tradition through himself so that listeners feel it speaks directly to them, and that its subtle beauty has grown new roots. Gautam's music expresses authenticity more than ethnicity, immediacy more than nostalgia - it is "new music from an old tradition" (SFJAZZ Festival), representing the "ecstatic edge of contemporary Indian classical music" (SF International Arts Festival).
His performances feature original compositions rendered with the extensive vocal improvisation and traditional rhythmic rapport within the ensemble for which South Indian music is known. Fundamentally committed to musicianship, his concerts also give place to the art of the song, wherein prosody and rhyme feature as musical elements, and melody is jointly narrative with meaning. His texts in his native tongue - born in Texas with the middle name to show for it - allow his listeners an unprecedented experience of the structure of Carnatic music, and a natural purchase on its elaborate song forms.
Gautam Tejas Ganeshan - song
Krishna "Kitta" Parthasarathy - violin
Gopal Ravindhran - mridangam
Ganesh Ramanarayanan - kanjira
Christina Boyd - tambura
Gautam has performed at the Palace of Fine Arts, the Cowell Theater at Fort Mason, the ODC Theater, CounterPULSE, and at the SFJazz SummerFest, as well as for Classical Revolution, among others. His group New Directions in Indian Classical Music was commissioned in 2009 by the San Francisco Foundation, and he was one of the first artists-in-residence at the Red Poppy Art House.
Across the bay, his appearances include at the new Freight & Salvage, Hillside Club, Jazzschool, Julia Morgan Theater, Subterranean Arthouse, Ashkenaz, and at UC Berkeley's Hertz Hall and Zellerbach Playhouse.
Gautam has guest taught Carnatic music for the Music of India courses at UC Berkeley and UC Santa Cruz, and has led workshops on singing and the aesthetics of Indian classical music at the SF Conservatory of Music, the Asian Art Museum (SF), and at the Stanford Jazz Workshop.
A musician with his ear to the ground, Gautam often lends his voice in support of the movement towards a local economy, particularly of food. At the Green Festival SF 2012, he contributed his music to the crowd as an interlude after the speech of Amy Goodman of Democracy Now. His singing opened each night of "From the Field to the Table", a performance project of the UC Berkeley Department of Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies bringing to light issues inherent in industrialized food production, choreographed by Urban Bush Women. At the East Bay Center for Performing Arts, he sang to introduce a documentary screening of "Bitter Seeds", about the epidemic of suicides among farmers in India indebted to multinational seed companies. And on Election Night 2012, he offered a spontaneous song to students in "Edible Education", a course led by Michael Pollan as a critical look at the food movement for both university students and the community at large.
Gautam is also the founder and director of the Sangati Center, which has hosted more than 350 public chamber concerts of Indian classical music in the past six years. Sangati Center concerts are distinguished by being presented strictly acoustically, with nothing amplified or plugged in, and with humans rather than electricity being responsible for the sound - recalling an age-old approach in where musicianship retains the focus in lieu of elaborate production. The Sangati Center has earned support from the National Endowment for the Arts, Alliance for California Traditional Arts, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Zellerbach Family Foundation, San Francisco Foundation, and others, as well as the goodwill of thousands of listeners and musicians local and abroad.