The India Center hosted its 13th Saraswati Classical Arts Festival on November 23, 2019, at the Manhattan Neighborhood Network, New York, NY.
The festival started with an amazing santoor performance by maestro Vinay Desai, followed by a scintillating rendition on sitar by expert Rishab Sharma and a grand finale by Bharat Natyam expert Guru Liza Joseph
Desai studied vocal, harmonium, and tabla in his teens. After completing his college in both Pre-pharmaceutical science as well as Pre-Law in Delaware, he went to India to study santoor. In 2011 under the guidance of Pandit Shivkumar Sharma, he began his studies with Takahiro Arai and Dhananjay Daithankar.
He later moved back to the US and studied with Guru Kunal Gunjal. To expand his knowledge of music, Desai studied with various maestros such as the late Pandit Ramesh Mishra, Parthasarathi Chatterjee, Jay Gandhi, and Suryaksha Deshpande. His music is influenced by yoga and meditation and is interwoven with the general feeling of peace and stillness interspersed with lively, powerful and rhythmic phrases.
Sharma is the fourth generation of the renowned Rikhiram family of musical instrument makers. His father, Shri Sanjay Sharma was his first Guru. Rishab made his stage debut in 2011 and Impressed by his performance Bharat Ratna Pandit Ravi Shankar took him under his tutelage and Rishab became his youngest disciple. Rishab has performed on various TV shows such as ‘Hindustan Ke Hunarbaaz’, ‘Entertainment Ke Liye Kuch Bhi Karega’ and was a Solo Performer at the ‘Howdy Modi’ event with 60,000 people in attendance.
Joseph had her initial training in Bharatanatyam from RLV Usha and later under Kalanilayam Chellamma and Shyamala. She studied in a Gurukul style workshop under world-renowned artists VP and Shantha Dhananjayan.
Joseph has choreographed over 120 items including classical, semi-classical, and folk dance workshops for schools, libraries, art centers, non-profit organizations, multinational corporations and has been a judge at many prestigious dance competitions. She launched The NatyaMudra School of Dance in 2002 with branches in New York and Connecticut.