May 14, 2019
Renowned for her work in the Indian/Western Classical music crossover space, award-winning vocalist Saili Oak performs songs of Dr. Ashwini Bhide Deshpande arranged for string quartet and Hindustani vocals.
After appearing on prominent stages for ensembles including the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, the Richmond Symphony, and the Albany Symphony Orchestra, award-winning Hindustani vocalist Saili Oak’s debut album “Beyond” has been released by .
“Since I moved to the US, I have been fascinated by Western classical music, and I began looking for ways to blend Hindustani singing with western music so that it sounded cohesive. It has been a wonderfully rewarding challenge, in part because Western music is completely notated, and Hindustani music is completely improvised. Fortunately, I was supported throughout the whole process by not only my guru Dr. Ashwini Bhide Deshpande, but by my friend and collaborator, composer Reena Esmail, and the amazing musicians of Salastina Music Society, which is one of the finest chamber ensembles I’ve been fortunate to work with,” Oak said.
On “Beyond,” Oak showcases why she began earning awards for her vocal talents by the time she was a teenager. A previous finalist on the popular reality television program “Zee Marathi SaReGaMaPa,” Oak won the All India Classical music competition at just 17 years old. She has also been the recipient of several awards including the Pt. Jasraj Youth Award and Indian Government's Ministry of Culture scholarship.
Oak has since gone on to perform at prominent festivals across the US and India and has taught master classes at colleges and for organizations including the University of South Florida, Salem State University, Smith College, the University of Texas at Austin, and Kaufmann Music Center in New York City. She also serves as the Co-Artistic Director for Shastra with Esmail, a non-profit organization dedicated to creating meaningful, cross-cultural music that connects great musical traditions of India and the West.
“Beyond” features original songs of Oak’s Guru, Dr. Ashwini Bhide Deshpande, including: Ajapa jaap, Mhari surata, Pata rakho, Magan rehna, Daaro waari, Kaha rahyo and a traditional song, Lagan bina.
“Beyond” was recorded at Allegro Recordings in Burbank, CA with Grammy-award winner Matthew Snyder serving as recording engineer. The works were reimagined for Western classical string quartet and Hindustani vocals by Reena Esmail along with the Shastra workshop alumni Shane Scott Cook, Kara Ford, Anton Ariki Sten, and Akshaya Tucker. This summer intensive program in Los Angeles, CA teaches composers how to work with Hindustani music and musicians.
“This album has been years in the making,” said Oak. “Three years ago, Reena (Esmail) and I sketched out the idea for this album over dinner. We were in the early stages of planning for Shastra’s Summer Intensive program in Los Angeles and were preparing to take our “Raga Meets Symphony” workshop to Mumbai and Delhi. We realized that there were no better composers to arrange these beautiful works than our own Shastra alumni.”
Continuing she added, “I feel truly blessed to have been surrounded by so much support throughout the years this album has been in development. I was encouraged by so many who taught me that strength lies in showing up and saying “Yes.” It is my hope that others will find inspiration from “Beyond” to also challenge themselves to explore something new.”
“Beyond” is currently available for download from Toro Records and will be available on streaming services this summer.
To learn more or to purchase “Beyond” visit
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