Rhiannon Ledwell: During a sunset performance in San Francisco, 2015 (photo: Stella Sadikin)

Rhiannon is a sitarist from the Maihar Gharana. She is based in Marin County, CA, where she studies at the Ali Akbar College of Music with Alam Khan, son and disciple of Maestro Ali Akbar Khan, and with Arjun Verma, also a disciple of Khansahib’s.

 

Rhiannon is influenced by Maestro Ali Akbar Khan, Pandit Nikhil Banerjee, Ustad Shahid Parvez Khan, and her teachers, Alam Khan and Arjun Verma.

 

In high school, Rhiannon was inspired by a Ravi Shankar recording, and made up her mind to learn to play the sitar. She was focused on saxophone and flute at the time, and put it in the back of her mind. Several years later, after an introductory Hindustani Classical Music class at Colby College, Rhiannon was fortunate enough to have a friend introduce her to Pandit Shubhendra Rao, a disciple of Pandit Ravi Shankar. She spent six months studying with him in New Delhi, immersed in the music and culture, and through her studies, she discovered a passion for composing, as well as for playing.

 

Upon her return, Rhiannon was encouraged to apply for a BFA in Music Composition. She transferred to California Institute of the Arts in 2012, and received her degree in 2015. Through CalArts, Rhiannon realized that she wanted to devote her musical life to the study and performance of North Indian Classical music.

 

At CalArts, Rhiannon studied sitar with Ustad Aashish Khan, tala with Pandit Swapan Chaudhuri and Randy Gloss, composition with performer/composers Vinny Golia, Michael Fink, and Neelamjit Dhillon, Javanese gamelan with Pak Djoko Walujo, and Balinese gamelan with Pak Nyoman Wenten. She continued to develop her unique composition style, inspired by her study of North Indian Classical music, Western Classical music, Jazz, Balinese Gamelan, and Javanese Gamelan.