Utsav Lal - Raga Pianist

Presented by Old First Concerts

Indian Pianist/composer Utsav Lal presents a genre colliding concert of Indian Classical Ragas and beyond through his distinctive voice on the piano. The concert features both traditional presentations, as well as new avenues of exploration drawing from raga music.

Lal delves into the depths of a beautiful evening raga, first with a solo piano Alap-Jod-Jhala, followed by Gat (traditional compositions) along with Nilan Chaudhuri. The duo will be joined by special guest George Brooks in the second half to present original compositions that blaze new paths of communication between raga music, jazz and experimental music tradition.

“a deeply personal pianistic meditation” – Songlines UK

“Utsav Lal has found a relatively unexplored niche as a pianist within the world of Indian Classical music … the result is a young pianist with a meditative, patient, powerful approach to the piano.” – Jazz Speaks

Pianist/composer Utsav Lal with his ingenious interpretations of Indian Classical Music on a Western instrument is recognized as the rarest of pianists with a stellar career over the last two decades. Performing at leading world venues and cultural festivals, Lal has toured the world presenting his ground-breaking work on the piano at leading world venues including Carnegie Hall (New York), Kennedy Center (Washington DC), Arts Center (Melbourne), Southbank Centre (London), NCPA (Mumbai), Asia Society (Hong Kong), Theatre Orangerie (Netherlands) and others. His music captures the innate beauty and soul of Indian Classical Ragas, and The Irish Times describes Utsav Lal as “a fleet-fingered performer whose best moments can be both highly evocative and dazzling.”

With unfailing clarity of technique and rhythmic virtuosity, Utsav Lal’s work, deeply influenced by Dhrupad under his guru Ustad Wasifuddin Dagar, and a vast array of sources such as The Necks, Thelonious Monk, Emahoy Tsegué-Maryam Guèbrou has been lauded for its simplicity, depth and powerful intensity. His unique perspective into the rich legacy of Indian music coupled with advanced training in Jazz, Celtic music and Contemporary Improvisation has allowed him to work with a myriad of world-class artists. Performing and teaching around the world, Lal has challenged commonly understood ways of improvisation to develop his own unique voice and has several piano record releases, which include a historic world’s first album on the microtonal “Fluid Piano”. www.utsavlal.com

Nilan Chaudhuri is a Bay Area based percussionist, educator, and performer. Initiated into the tradition of Indian Classical Music at the age of five by his father, Pandit Swapan Chaudhuri, Nilan has been performing as a tabla soloist and accompanist for nearly two decades. Since his debut performance in concert with his father in Queens, NY, in 2005, Nilan has shared the stage with some of Hindustani Classical Music’s most celebrated artists, like Ustad Amjad Ali Khansahib, Ustad Shujaat Khan, Pt. Debashish Bhattacharya, and Alam Khan, at venues such as Carnegie Hall, The Fillmore, The Monterey Pop Festival, The Richmond Folk Festival etc.. His genre-bending collaborations include performances and recordings with the likes of conductor Michael Morgan and the Fremont Symphony, pop star, Beck, sitarist, Arjun Verma, sarodist, Manik Khan, violinist Raaginder Singh Momi, The Toronto Tabla Ensemble, George Brooks, Dennis Chambers, Miles Schon, and DJ Teeko. Nilan teaches Tabla throughout the Bay Area as a faculty member at the Ali Akbar College of Music, in San Rafael, and as the Director of Percussion at Chitresh Das Institute, in San Mateo. He also serves as an archivist at the Ali Akbar College of Music, where the construction of a musical archive spanning 40 years of his Father’s work, is underway. It’s his lifelong mission to contribute to the preservation and enrichment of Indian Classical percussion. www.nilantabla.com

George Brooks is an award-winning saxophonist and composer, acclaimed for successfully bridging the worlds of jazz and Indian classical music. He is the founder of seminal Indian fusion groups Summit with Zakir Hussain; Bombay Jazz with Ronu Majumdar and Larry Coryell; Raga Bop Trio with Steve Smith and Prasanna; Kirwani Quartet with Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia and Elements with Kala Ramnath and Gwyneth Wentink. Brooks has collaborated extensively with American composer Terry Riley and has performed with genre defining artists Etta James, Anthony Braxton, Jaki Byard, Talvin Singh, Kronos Quartet, The Temptations, Michael McClure and Ray Manzarek. He appears regularly at major festivals throughout India, and was a featured soloist on John McLaughlin’s 2008 Grammy nominated “Floating Point” CD.As a composer, Brooks has received commissions from the American Composers Forum, EnActe Arts, Opera Piccola, Intermusic SF, Arts International, California Jazz Conservatory, US Artists, New Music USA, Real Vocal String Quartet, SFMOMA, Met Life Creative Connections and Gwyneth Wentink who premiered his solo harp composition, “The Alchemy of Happiness” at the 2013 Gaudeamus Muziekweek. His compositions have been performed by Yo-Yo Ma, members of the Liverpool Philharmonic, and can be heard in the Merchant/Ivory film, “The Mystic Masseur”. www.georgebrooks.com

City: San Francisco
Price Range:
$25 in-person / by donation for livestream


Utsav Lal piano
Nilan Chaudhuri tabla
George Brooks saxophone

Old First Presbyterian Church

Old First Presbyterian Church

1751 Sacramento Street
San Francisco, CA 94109
United States