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Kaoru Watanabe and Sameer Gupta’s NATURE/WAR/LOVE featuring Parul Shah

Presented with Brooklyn Raga Massive

Friday, January 25, 2019
7:00 PM–8:30 PM

Known for “preserving the past while blurring genres in an inventive spirit” (New York Times), Brooklyn Raga Massive presents a musical and visual odyssey that explores ancient Japanese and Indian poetic text and lyrical prose. Shinobue flute and taiko drum virtuoso Kaoru Watanabe, known for his work on Wes Anderson’s Isle of Dogs and Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble, and hybrid Indian classical tabla and modern jazz percussionist Sameer Gupta (Coltrane Raga Tribute, Adam Rudolph) team up with Indian classical and contemporary choreographer Parul Shah, whose work is expanding the classical medium beyond cultural boundaries.

Through the lens of lush contemporary compositions and dynamic improvisations, the thematic material found in traditional works such as Ghalib, Mahabharata, Amaterasu, and the Tale of Genji provides a framework for these three brilliant artists to explore the connections between these ancient texts and today’s world.


About the Performers



Kaoru Watanabe is a Brooklyn based composer and musician, specializing in the Japanese percussion and shinobue flutes. He has spent decades artfully blending the sounds of Japanese instruments with those from around the world, collaborating with such artists as National Living Treasure Bando Tamasaburo, Jason Moran, So Percussion, Adam Rudolph, Kenny Endo, Stefon Harris, Kiyohiko Semba, Alicia Hall Moran, Tamango, calligrapher Kakinuma Koji, visual artist Simone Leigh, and director Martin Scorsese, and was a featured guest on Yo-Yo Ma’s Grammy Award-winning album Sing Me Home.

After graduating from Manhattan School of Music with a BA in jazz flute and saxophone, Watanabe moved to Japan and joined the world-renowned taiko performing arts ensemble Kodo, the first non-Japanese to do so. He spent close to a decade performing with Kodo as well as acting as artistic director of their world music festival Earth Celebration, where he curated works with such esteemed guests as Zakir Hussain, Giovanni Hidalgo, Carlos Nunez and Yosuke Yamashita.

Watanabe has performed his compositions at such prestigious venues as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, The Kennedy Center, Kabukiza and in Minamiza, has performed in all 47 prefectures in Japan as well as across the North, Central and South Americas, Europe, Asia and Australia.

As a passionate educator, Kaoru has taught courses at Princeton University, Wesleyan University, Colby and Dickinson Colleges and has been a faculty member at Tanglewood Music Festival and the Silk Road Project’s Global Musician Workshop at DePauw University. Kaoru is an instructor for kaDON, an online Japanese flute and percussion resource presented by preeminent taiko maker Miyamoto Unosuke Shoten of Tokyo.

Sameer Gupta completed his Jazz studies learning from his peers on the bandstands in San Francisco and Oakland to Harlem and Brooklyn. Today he lives in Brooklyn, NYC and is actively involved in performing, curating, producing and teaching through various institutions including the Outside (In)dia Series presented by India Center Foundation, Brooklyn Raga Massive, Carnegie Hall’s Global Encounters and Ragas Live Festival. Sameer is also a co-founder and an Artistic Director of the non-profit collective Brooklyn Raga Massive.

Gupta has had the pleasure to make music with many great musicians including Harry Belafonte, Marc Cary, Casey Benjamin, Martha Redbone, Awa Sangho, Falu Shah, Adam Rudolph, Rez Abbasi, Kiran Ahluwalia, Wallace Roney, Karsh Kale, Pandit Krishna Bhatt, Ravi Chandra Kulur, Mysore Manjunath, Prasant Radhakrishnan, Pandit Chitresh Das, Jason Samuels Smith, Pandit Ramesh Mishra, Pandit Anindo Chatterjee and numerous other luminaries.

Gupta continues to build his career by combining traditional and modern improvisational styles drawing from his dual Indian and American heritage, and has already established himself as an original musical voice in music today. From bebop to avant-garde jazz, and European classical percussion to North Indian classical tabla, Gupta continues to compose and perform music from a true multi-cultural perspective that now bridges several continents.

Artistic director Parul Shah, of the Parul Shah Dance Company, is an internationally acclaimed Kathak and contemporary dancer and choreographer whose work is expanding the classical medium beyond cultural boundaries. Her work aims to create shared experiences and lasting connections between performers and audiences.

Behind Parul’s work is decades of rigorous Kathak training under the world-renowned guru and choreographer Padmabhushan Kumudini Lakhia. Parul’s repertoire spans both classical and contemporary dance vocabularies, and her influences include her own experiences and observations as much as her training. Building on the dance form’s mythological storytelling roots, Shah explores narratives, using a movement vocabulary that draws from her classical training but extends to her personal history and culture to communicate the dynamic and often paradoxical nature of modern life through compelling solo and group choreographies.

She is especially driven to shining a light on marginalized stories, and is committed to outreach and education. Shah has presented her work around the world and at home to critical acclaim, including City Center’s Fall for Dance Festival in NYC and the Kennedy Center in Washington DC.

Tickets: $30.00

Member Tickets: $24.00