“When you think of Indian classical music, you probably don’t expect to hear beat box, or strains of jazz, and even rock. But that’s exactly what Nistha Raj is all about. The violinist is mixing classical Hindustani music with modern sounds to bring it to a new generation of music lovers. ” NPR Tell Me More
“The prowess and passion of Exit 1′s two closing tunes, the solo violin meditations “Gravity (Raga Charukeshi Alap)” and “Alibi (Raga Charukeshi Jor/Jhala),” seem to boil over directly from Raj’s mind and heart.” - Chris M. Slawecki, All About Jazz
2013-2014 Strathmore Artist in Residence, Nistha Raj has been regarded as “stunningly skilled in western and eastern classical music” by the Washington City Paper. Nistha is emerging as a fresh voice in creative and world music. Her self-released debut album, “Exit 1”, funded by the Sparkplug Foundation, has been described as “edgy, innovative, and clearly awe-inspiring…Indian fusion at its best” (Inside World Music). A versatile musician, Nistha pursues new horizons by melding tradition with contemporary innovation - lending her talents to the Jazz trio The Fourth Stream, collaborations with National Symphony Orchestra (NSO) musicians, The Last Stand Quartet, Grammy nominated hip hop artist Christylez Bacon; and recording on rock band NRI’s album. A distinguished performer and teacher in the Washington, DC community, Nistha has performed at the United Nations, Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and the American Embassy in Bogota, Colombia. Nistha is a recipient of multiple grants from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, including the 2012 Artist Fellowship.
Nistha Raj’s initial training in music began with western classical violin at the age of nine, which she pursued seriously until graduation from college. She received a B.A. in music with honors from the University of Houston in 2003. Although born and raised in the U.S., because of her Indian heritage, she was exposed to the classical music of India from her childhood and had an intense desire to delve deeper into a study of the music. To immerse herself in the music and culture of India, in 2004, Nistha traveled to the small town of Vrindavan in India to study the oldest form of Indian classical music, Dhrupad, with Tarun Krishna Das, disciple of Vidur Mallick. She spent seven months immersed in the music and instantly discovered a deep connection and affinity for the music and thus began her journey and desire to always be surrounded by this music.
In 2005, after being selected as the only American to receive a scholarship from the Indian Council for Cultural Relations, Nistha completed two years of intensive formal training at the Gandharva Maha Vidyalaya in New Delhi, India. She trained under the guidance of Sharat Srivastava, the foremost disciple of his grandfather, Sri Joi Srivastava, belonging to the Senia Gharana to which legendary artists like Ali Akbar Khansahib and Pandit Ravi Shankar belong to. In addition, to further increase her understanding of Hindustani music, she also trained in vocal music with Meeta Pandit, who is the sixth in the unbroken lineage of musicians of the legendary Pandit Family of Gwailor. She also had the privilege to receive guidance from Dr. N Rajam, one of the foremost Hindustani violinists. Upon her return to the US in 2007, Nistha has remained constant in her pursuit of music by continuing to develop her skills and technique. She has received training from Kolkata based Sarode player, Prattyush Banerjee, disciple of Buddhadev Das Gupta. Currently she is receiving guidance and mentorship from DC based Master Flute player, Deepak Ram. In total, Nistha has over 20 years of classical violin training in the U.S. and India. She also holds a MA in Arts Management from the George Mason University.
"Her keen musicianship and talent has been highly appreciated and lauded by the audiences"
-Virander Paul, Minister of Press, Information & Culture,
Embassy of India