Aneesh Pradhan

One of India’s leading tabla players, Aneesh Pradhan is a disciple of the illustrious tabla maestro Nikhil Ghosh from whom he inherited a rich and varied repertoire of traditional tabla solo compositions from the Delhi, Ajrada, Lucknow, Farrukhabad and Punjab gharanas.

Greatly appreciated by both the cognoscenti and the lay listener as a soloist and accompanist, Aneesh Pradhan is the recipient of several awards such as the Aditya Birla Kala Kiran Award (2000), the Natyadarpan Award for ‘Best Background Score’ (1998) for music direction to the Marathi play ‘Tumbara’ directed by Sunil Shanbag, the Vasantotsav Award (2012) instituted in memory of the eminent vocalist Dr. Vasantrao Deshpande, and the Saath Sangat Kalakar Award (2013) instituted in memory of G.L.Samant by the Gandharva Mahavidyalaya, Pune.

A popular performer at most prestigious concerts and festivals in the country, Aneesh Pradhan has also traveled widely and performed overseas at major events. He has also recorded prolifically for national and international record labels accompanying a host of vocalists and instrumentalists. His first tabla solo album titled “Tabla: the solo tradition” recorded in concert in 1997 and published in 2004, was followed by “Tabla solo: a continuing tradition”, a studio recording made in 2006.

Aneesh broadcasts regularly on Indian radio and television. He has also been featured on radio and television networks overseas and was one of the presenters for a radio series entitled “Perspectives – North Indian Classical Music” featured on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. His inputs on the rhythmic aspects of this system of music were of particular significance to this series.

Apart from his work with art music, Aneesh Pradhan is also a frequent participant in cross-cultural musical collaborations both in the capacity of performer and composer. Drawn equally towards melody and rhythm, Aneesh’s compositions range from pieces composed for tabla solo repertoire, to melodic and text-based compositions that are based on traditional vocal and instrumental forms of Hindustani music. He is keen to push the envelope in experimenting with sound and music through his composition for film, television, theatre and dance projects.

Notably, research for the play ‘Stories in a Song’ conceived by Shubha Mudgal and directed by Sunil Shanbag was provided by Aneesh Pradhan and Shubha Mudgal, and the music for this play was also composed and selected by both of them.  Aneesh was also music designer and consultant for music and research for the award-winning Marathi film ‘The Disciple’ directed by Chaitanya Tamhane.

Aneesh has also been a member of the Japan-based Asian Fantasy Orchestra since 1998, and has also participated as composer and performer in an ongoing collaboration with the Ensemble Modern, Frankfurt, since 2003. Some of his inter-cultural collaborations have also been released commercially.  The project entitled Bridge of Dreams (produced and performed by the Sirens Big Band from Australia) was a collaboration between three composers, Sandy Evans, Shubha Mudgal and Aneesh Pradhan.  In 2023, Aneesh was invited to collaborate with the Zafraan Ensemble in Germany for concerts featuring a composition specially written for tabla and ensemble by Stefan Keller.

Aneesh Pradhan’s teaching assignments in the past include stints as artist-in-residence at the University of New England, Australia, and as guest lecturer at the Music Department, University of Mumbai. He was Senior Research Fellow at the Department of Music, Media and Cultural Studies, Macquarie University, Australia, and was Adjunct Research Fellow at the India Research Centre, Macquarie University, Australia. He has taught a course on Hindustani Music with Shubha Mudgal for the Performing Arts Department of the Ashoka University, India.  He regularly conducts lecture-demonstrations, workshops and participates in seminars, at various universities and other educational institutions in India and abroad. Aneesh was Adjunct Senior Research Fellow in the Sir Zelman Cowen School of Music, Monash University, Australia.

In 2016, Aneesh Pradhan was awarded the Indian Council for Cultural Relations Chair in Indian Studies at the Sir Zelman Cowen School of Music, Monash University.

He has been invited by the Goa Institute of Management as a Distinguished Visiting Scholar for a period of two years from January 2022.

His study and research in the area of History, which he studied at the University of Mumbai has earned him a doctorate. He has been a keen researcher of trends in performance, music education and patronage that unfolded in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, a period that continues to fascinate him for its direct relation to and reason for the musical situation he finds himself in. He writes frequently on music for newspapers, journals and other publications in India and abroad and is also deeply involved in creating and developing educational material related to Indian music. He is the author of a children’s book on tabla, which is part of a forthcoming twelve book series entitled Baajaa Gaajaa: Musical Instruments of India. He has also written Tabla: A Performer’s Perspective, which gives an overview of the stylistic features and performance contexts of the instrument. He has been awarded a medal by the Asiatic Society of Mumbai for his book entitled Hindustani Music in Colonial Bombay. His latest ebook is called Hindustani Music: Ways of Listening, a collection of articles that he had written over two years for, a digital publication.  His latest book is entitled Chasing the Raag Dream: A Look into the World of Hindustani Music.

He has also directed and produced a short film entitled Pratidhvani: Reverberations of the Nanasaheb Panse Pakhawaj Tradition.

Aneesh is the Director of Underscore Records Pvt. Ltd, an independent online record label that he established with vocalist Shubha Mudgal. He also co-curates with Shubha Mudgal, an international music festival called Baajaa Gaajaa: Music from 21st Century India.

Based in Mumbai, India, Aneesh Pradhan lives a life that affords him the chance to be in turns, performer, composer, student, teacher, researcher, and author.

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