Chris Votek Debuts Album with Concert Singing Strings of the East and West

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Singing Strings of the East and West

On Saturday, March 5, cellist, composer, and CalArts alum Chris Votek (Music BFA 08) presents Singing Strings of the East and West. Celebrating the release of his debut album Memories of a Shadow on MicroFest Records, the concert will take place at 8 pm at Pico Union Project in Los Angeles. Presented by MicroFest, the concert is hosted by KPFK radio personality John Schneider. 

The concert will include a Gayaki-Ang vocal style traditional Indian raga presentation with Kala Ramnath on the singing violin and Dr. Neelamjit Dhillon on tabla. Ramnath’s compositions have been featured in Grammy- and Oscar-winning films. Dhillon, current faculty of The Herb Alpert School of Music at CalArts, has worked extensively with Disney and performed on Snatam Kaur’s Grammy-nominated album Beloved. 

The concert features Votek’s string quintet Memories of a Shadow, which blends raga melody and European polyphony, followed by an encore of Sands of Time. Artists include members of the Grammy-nominated new music collective Wild Up: Andrew Tholl (Music MFA 08, DMA 12) and Adrianne Pope on violin, Ben Bartelt and Tom Lea on viola, and Derek Stein (Music MFA 10) on cello. 

A disciple of Dr. N. Rajam, Votek’s music explores the intersections between Western and Indian classical traditions. An advocate for increasing accessibility to traditional art forms, Votek and Dhillon led a pre-concert Indian music workshop for music students on Feb. 19 through the nonprofit Harmony Project. 

“Seeds were planted for the direction of my artistic life during my time at CalArts where I was both introduced to Indian music and immersed in a highly collaborative environment as both a cellist and a composer,” Votek said. “After diving deeper and deeper into raga, I feel I have found my voice: bridging the worlds of Indian and Western classical music and embracing my role as a translator between cultures.”

Votek has composed, produced, and performed for multiple short films, a feature-length documentary, and for The Marías’ Grammy-nominated album Cinema. Touring his music throughout four continents, Votek has collaborated with Ustad Zakir Hussain, Julia Holter (Music-IM MFA 09), Chris Martin, Father John Misty, Wild Up, Bridge to Everywhere, Kamasi Washington, The Dirty Projectors, Amanda Palmer, The Marías, Mamak Khadem, and Homayoun Shajarian. His compositions have been performed at the Hammer Museum, REDCAT, Royal Opera House Muscat, the Smithsonian Institution, Clockshop, and the San Francisco Symphony. 

Watch the trailer for Memories of a Shadow below. 

Tickets for Singing Strings of the East and West are available for $25 in advance and for $30 at the door.

—by Ishika Muchhal

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