Akshara Music Ensemble

Akshara Music Ensemble

 New York City, New York, USA

Akshara is a New York-based music ensemble building new forms on the foundations of Indian classical music.


Mridangist, composer, and educator Bala Skandan formed Akshara Music Ensemble in 2008, assembling New York’s strongest voices in Indian classical music to explore the crossroads of the traditional and the contemporary.
Skandan’s original music expresses classical Carnatic (South Indian) ragas and talas through the forms of world music, jazz improvisation, and modern composition, creating a music as dynamic and diverse as New York City itself.

With an instrumentation ranging from hammered dulcimer, violins, and cello to mridangam, kanjira, and bansuri, Akshara’s music utilizes a broad sonic palette that highlights its members’ backgrounds in Carnatic, Hindustani, Western Classical, and Folk music. Through agile melody, propulsive percussion, and energetic ensemble interplay, they craft a hybrid music of uncommon beauty and rigor.

Akshara has presented work sponsored by some of New York’s leading arts institutions and music venues, including The Rubin Museum of Art, Lyric Chamber Music Society, Cornelia St. Café, and Rockwood Music Hall. In addition to their musical performances, Akshara is active in composing and performing new music to accompany classical dance productions, teaching workshops and masterclasses to music students, and bringing the richness of Indian classical traditions to audiences of initiates and neophytes alike.

The core ensemble currently features Bala Skandan on mridangam and compositions, Arun Ramamurthy on violin, Jay Gandhi on bansuri, Kabilan Jeganathan on kanjira, and Dave Eggar on cello, in addition to many special guests.

Set List

Gambira Nattai - 20 minutes
Sadjam - 7 minutes
Mohana Blues - 6 minutes
Mind the Gap - 8 minutes
Classical Carnatic - 10-30 minutes
Other original works - 10-30 minutes