Hailed as “A fiery alto saxophonist and prolific composer” by the Star Tribune (Minneapolis), Aakash Mittal is emerging as an expressive artistic voice. His self-released album, Videsh, has been regarded as, "point[ing] toward new possibilities in improvised music." (The Denver Post) As a composer and improviser, Mittal employs colorful dissonances, meditative silences, and angular rhythms to express environments and spaces ranging from the American west to the dense streets of Kolkata.
Mittal has performed nationally at such venues as The Dakota (Minneapolis), The Cultural Center of Chicago, The Blue Room, (Kansas City) and Dazzle Jazz Club (Denver). Internationally, Aakash Mittal has led a quartet at the Congo Square Jazz Festival in Kolkata, India. As a sideman, Mittal as 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 PI Recordings artist Amir Elsaffar, avant- garde poet Bhanu Kapil, Yells at Eels with Dennis Gonzalez, and Joining Hands with bharatnatyam dancer Anjal Chande.
As a composer, Aakash Mittal has written extensively for jazz quartet composing over fifty new works. Other commissions include, Urban Raga (2011), Transitions (2011), and Questions of Identity (2012) for the Playground Ensemble; Octet on Raga Yaman (2009) for the Ethos West Chamber Orchestra. In 2012 Mittal wrote Meditation for Pictures on Silence saxophone and harp duo. As a leader, Mittal has self-released four recordings, Possible Beginnings, Videsh, Thumbs Up EP, and Ocean to rave reviews.
Aakash Mittal’s awards and honors include the Chamber Music America/ASCAP Award for Adventurous Programming of Contemporary Music (2012) and the Herb Albert/ASCAP Young Jazz Composers Award (2013). Aakash Mittal is a 2013 American Institute of Indian Studies Creative and Performing Arts Fellow.
Hailed as a "rising artist" by The New York Times and "triumphant" by TimeOut NY for her recent Bang On a Can Marathon debut, Adrianna Mateo has performed solo at the American Museum of Natural History, the Winter Garden Atrium, the TimesCenter, Waldorf-Astoria's Grand Ballroom, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and on tour internationally. Consistently praised for her lyrical, powerful, and emotionally raw performances, Ms. Mateo has naturally broadened her scope to perform as a contemporary violinist, singer, and songwriter throughout the East Coast, in South Africa, and in Southeast Asia.
Ms. Mateo is comfortable at the helm of large creative projects. Most recently, she produced, art-directed, and modeled in a 15-person crew photoshoot; successfully Kickstarted her debut album with the support of composers including David Lang, Nico Muhly, and Bora Yoon; violinists Tim Fain (Philip Glass), Sean Mackin (Yellowcard), and Chrysanthe Tan (Ariana Grande); and curated and performed a 3-hour show of her original music, classical standards and multiple contemporary classical commissions, music from the films Amélie and The Triplets of Belleville, and pop arrangements including Beyoncé and Bruno Mars at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Ms. Mateo's 2015-2016 appearances include curating and performing her fourth run of shows at the Met Museum with her new quintet; singing on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert; conducting orchestral premieres at Merkin Hall and the DiMenna Center; and making her acting debut at the Metropolitan Opera in Manon Lescaut.
David Bloom is founding co-artistic director of Contemporaneous, a New York-based ensemble of 21 musicians dedicated to performing the most exciting music of the present moment. Noted for his "energy and passion" (I Care If You Listen) as well as his "skill and musicality" (New York Classical Review), David is a devoted advocate for new music, regularly working with composers and ensembles to bring new and recent works to life.
David has conducted over 150 world premieres for such presenters as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Walker Art Center, Merkin Concert Hall, and the Bang on a Can Marathon. He has worked with artists and ensembles as diverse as David Byrne, Donnacha Dennehy, JACK Quartet, Courtney Love, Dylan Mattingly, Andrew Norman, Present Music, NOW Ensemble, Dawn Upshaw, and Julia Wolfe.
Especially active as a conductor of new opera throughout the U.S. and Canada, David serves as music director for developing and touring productions of works by Judd Greenstein, Matt Marks, Anthony Gatto, and Todd Almond. He has recorded for the Innova, New Amsterdam, Mexican Summer, Mona, and Starkland labels.
Also a passionate educator, David is orchestral and special projects conductor for Face the Music, the nation's only youth music program dedicated to the work of living composers. He also conducts the orchestra and opera programs at Special Music School High School. Along with Contemporaneous, he leads frequent educational programs for students of all ages in the area where the ensemble performs, including residencies at City University of New York, the University of New Orleans, Williams College, and his alma mater, Bard College.
Vasudevan Panicker, Director of Face the Music
Vasudevan Panicker (Vasu) is Director of Face the Music at Kaufman Music Center, the nation’s only youth orchestra program dedicated to performing works by living composers. As a born-and-raised New Yorker from Manhattan, Vasu attended Fiorello H. LaGuardia high school for piano performance, Manhattan School of Music Pre-College Division, and City University of New York (B.S., Contemporary Music Studies). After serving as Face the Music’s first intern and, later, as Managing Director, he lived in Germany and Argentina for eight months. While living abroad, he reached C.1-level in German from the Goethe-Institut; he also acquired conversational fluency in Spanish.
In 2016, he returned home to New York to lead Face the Music. Additionally, he teaches a course in artistic entrepreneurship at Special Music School High School (P.S. 859) at Kaufman Music Center. Now living in Brooklyn, Vasu loves coffee, fashion, technology, design and combining his interest in social sciences with his commitment to music education. He hopes to guide students in defining both their own life-missions and the part that music will play in their lives, in service of building a better society through the arts.
Whitney George is a composer and conductor who specializes in the use of mixed media to blur the distinctions between concert performance, installation art, and theater. Utilizing a wide variety of material including literary texts, silent film, stock footage, and visual arts, George's compositions are characterized by an immersive theatricality that thrives on collaboration in all phases of the creative process. Her affinity for the macabre, the fantastic, and the bizarre frequently gives rise to musical programs that evoke the traditions of phantasmagoria and melodrama, challenging musicians to experiment liberally with their stage personae, and audiences to widen the scope of their attention.
George’s music, performance art, and installations have had both international and domestic premieres in England, Hong Kong, Austria, the Netherlands, and the east and west coasts of the US. Her works have been performed and premiered by The American Modern Ensemble, Contemporaneous, Shout House, Ensemble Mise-en, The Concrete Timbre Collective, Mivos String Quartet, New York Trombone Consort, Low Brass Connection, Cygnus Ensemble, Transit Ensemble, Fulcrum Point String Quartet, CME (Contemporary Music Ensemble), The Curiosity Cabinet, Cadillac Moon, and Vigil Ensemble.
She is the artistic director and conductor of The Curiosity Cabinet, a chamber orchestra formed in 2009 whose members were culled from a network of close collaborators within New York's diverse new music scene. The Cabinet's live performances often engage playfully with the prototype of the classical concert, imbuing even non-theatrical compositions with elements of drama. The ensemble has participated in the inaugural CUNY New Music Festival and was invited as the ensemble-in-residence at the Hartford Women Composers Festival in 2012, and has since performed regularly in New York city and Brooklyn including venues such as Dixon Place, National Sawdust, South Oxford Space, Elebash Hall, and more.
George holds an undergraduate degree from the California Institute of the Arts, a masters degree from Brooklyn College Conservatory, and is currently continuing her studies as a PhD candidate at the CUNY Graduate Center, where she studied with David Del Tredici, David Olan, Bruce Saylor, and Tania Leon. In addition to her composing and conducting, George teaches at the Brooklyn College Conservatory, works at the Hitchcock Institute of American Studies and is the Managing Director for New York’s American Modern Ensemble (AME).
Jesse Alexander Brown
Jesse Alexander Brown is a composer, collaborator, and advocate for contemporary music, with a strong interest in electronics and minimalist techniques. His interests in other disciplines, ranging from literature to film, inform both his approach to music and his musical language. He was the 2010 recipient of the Paul J. Pacini Music Scholarship from Bard College, where he graduated with a B.A. in music. While at Bard, Jesse collaborated with such artists as The American Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Leon Botstein, Blair McMillen and the Da Capo Players, Marka Gustavsson of the Colorado Quartet, and David Bloom with Contemporaneous. He studied primarily with composer and author, Kyle Gann.
He earned his master’s degree in music composition at the Hartt School where he studied with Robert Carl and Ken Steen (2010-12). At Hartt, he collaborated with the school’s theater division on the 2011 production of Hamlet, under the direction of the late Malcolm Morrison as well as coach musicians for the premieres of his amplified string quartet "…And Let My Cry Come Unto Thee" (Foot in the Door ensemble) and "Hagar," written for and performed by composer/countertenor, Steven Serpa. Recent collaborations include a short series of sound pieces for the Pratt gallery exhibition "Unoriginal," and the world premiere performance of Music for Double Bass at the Look and Listen Festival by a bass ensemble led by Evan Runyon.
Jesse has lived in NYC just over three years and has enjoyed exploring other areas of performance production, most notably stage managing for musical theater and opera, alike.
Jesse looks forward to working with Face the Music and all of the talented, enthusiastic students!
Katherine Haroldson has enjoyed building a career around performing and arts administration.
As a cellist, she has been active as a teacher, performer, and recording artist.
While a student in Boston, Katherine was a member of the Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra. She performed in Boston’s Symphony Hall, Carnegie Hall, Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw, and Berlin’s Philharmonie. As a winner of the Delaware All-State Concerto Competition, Katherine soloed with the Delaware All-State Orchestra and played in the cello section of the Delaware Symphony Orchestra. She has worked with esteemed musicians such as Janos Starker, Colin Carr, Caroline Shaw, and Kim Kashkashian. Katherine has also enjoyed recording collaborations with singer/songwriter Maggie Rogers and art rock band Midnight Snack.
In addition to her performance background, Katherine has also been actively involved in arts administration. She has interned with the Handel and Haydn Society in Boston, the Four Seasons Chamber Music Festival in Greenville, NC, and the Classics For Kids Foundation.
A recent graduate of Boston University, Katherine has a BM in cello performance and a minor in arts leadership. She studied with Marc Johnson and Mike Reynolds.