In this workshop, saxophonist and composer Aakash Mittal will guide participants on a listening and analysis journey through several of his original works. The workshop will focus on the music of Mittal’s improvisation-based Awaz Trio as well as his two large ensemble works Samay Raga for Wind Ensemble and Three Songs of Bengal for Concert Band. Mittal will share his process of creating harmonies and melodies from the ragas he is studying and he will explain how he applies the concept within his compositions. Mittal hopes that participants will leave the workshop inspired to explore and develop their own methods for incorporating raga music into their own work. No prior knowledge of Raga Music or Western notation is required to attend. Participants will have a chance to ask questions and foster discussion during the workshop.
Hailed as “A fiery alto saxophonist and prolific composer” by the Star Tribune (Minneapolis), Aakash Mittal is sculpting a dynamic voice that mines the intersection of improvisation, composition, sonified movement, and noise. The colorful dissonances, meditative silences, and angular rhythms that emerge invite the listener to enter a sonic landscape. Mittal’s work explores universal designs while being rooted in both South Asian and American musical traditions. His latest project is a series of nocturnes written for his Awaz Trio that abstract and deconstruct five Hindustani evening and night ragas.
As a composer, Aakash Mittal has written extensively for a variety of ensembles and mediums composing over one hundred new works. His recent commissions include Samay Raga for Wind Ensemble for Lawrence University and a consortium of eleven international wind symphonies, the found-sound piece Ghosts (2017) for BOMB Magazine, a work for solo percussion titled Meditation, Motion, and Melody for Indian-American percussionist David Abraham (2017). The Playground ensemble has commissioned a number of works including Urban Raga (2011), Transitions (2011), and Questions of Identity (2012). In 2009 Mittal wrote Octet on Raga Yaman for the Ethos West Chamber Orchestra. In 2012 Mittal wrote Meditation for Pictures on Silence saxophone and harp duo. American University Creative Ensemble commissioned the work Pooja, in 2013. As a leader, Mittal has self-released four recordings, Possible Beginnings, Videsh, Thumbs Up EP, and Ocean to rave reviews.
Aakash Mittal has performed with such notable ensembles as the Milford Graves Trio, Du Yun’s Ok Miss, Amir Elsaffar’s Rivers of Sound, and the Brooklyn Raga Massive. As a leader Mittal has performed nationally at such venues as Lincoln Center (New York City), The Dakota (Minneapolis), The Cultural Center of Chicago, The American Jazz Museum (Kansas City), and Dazzle Jazz Club (Denver). Internationally, Aakash Mittal led a quartet at the Congo Square Jazz Festival in Kolkata, India. As a sideman, Mittal has performed in Kolkata with world-renowned percussionist Pandit Tanmoy Bose’s Taal Tantra, and with the creative music ensemble Kendraka. In 2012 Mittal toured Mexico with Ravish Momin’s Trio Tarana.
Other collaborations include poet Bhanu Kapil, Yells at Eels with Dennis Gonzalez, and Joining Hands with bharatnatyam dancer Anjal Chande.
Music education is a core element of Mittal’s creative activities. He began teaching private students at home and clarinet classes at Lucille Erwin Middle School in Loveland, Colorado at the age of sixteen. He has maintained a private studio since 2002. After moving to New York City Mittal taught music classes at the Salvation Army in Harlem. Aakash Mittal is currently on the music faculty for Special Music High School, The Lucy Moses School, and The Brooklyn Waldorf School. As a conductor, Mittal leads three ensembles for Face the Music. Face The Music is a NYC youth organization where students play the music of living composers. Mittal has conducted workshops at a number of universities including Metro State Denver, University of Denver, University of Colorado at Boulder, and the University of Northern Colorado.
As a writer, Mittal has published essays, interviews, and performance reviews in NewMusicBox, BOMB Magazine, and New York Music Daily. Writing is an integral part of his compositional practice. Mittal shares personal essays through his website and email newsletters.
Aakash Mittal’s awards and honors include the Chamber Music America/ ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming of Contemporary Music (2012), the Herb Albert/ASCAP Young Jazz Composers Award (2013), and the American Institute of Indian Studies Creative and Performing Arts Fellowship (2013). Aakash Mittal has received a Bachelor of Music from the University of Colorado at Boulder (2007) and has been a participant of the “Workshop for Jazz and Creative Music” and “(R)evolution: Resonant Bodies” at the Banff Center in Alberta, Canada. Mittal has been studying Hindustani raga music with Prattyush Banerjee and Tanmoy Bose since 2009 and with Samarth Nagakar since 2016. Aakash Mittal currently studies music and creativity with the legendary drummer/healer Milford Graves.