“Aunty ji, how are you?” I say as I run to hug Ishita, a dear friend and a constant ray of sunshine, no matter what Boston’s weather is like. Ishita Sinha has been a part of the Berklee Indian Ensemble since her second semester and there is so much that I’ve learnt from her over the past two years. With a heart as pure as her voice, she is a friend, mentor and confidant to me the people around her. As she nears the finish line at Berklee with a dual major in Electronic Production and Design and Film Scoring, Ishita has a lot to say about her journey so far.
How did it all begin?
I was introduced to Indian Classical music around 6 years of age. I continued my practice all through my high school. In fact, I even took my boards with music as a subject. After high school I went to Shriram Bharatiya Kala Kendra in New Delhi where I got the opportunity to study for a year under Mrs. Shanti Sharma, a well reputed Hindustani Music singer, an amazing performer and a caring guru. After she passed away in 2008, I continued studying at the institute with one of Mrs. Sharma’s senior students. This is when I discovered that I wanted to do more than just sing. For sometime I had mixed feelings about why I spent so much time in New Delhi, but recently I realized how important those few years in Delhi were for me to take a step back and really try to understand what it was that I wanted to do in life.
What brought you to the Indian Ensemble?
By the end of my first semester (Spring 2012) I became really aware of how much I missed singing Indian music. At the end of that semester I landed up going for the Indian Ensemble’s performance at the Loft (921). It was contemporary Indian music with a twist. The entire choir performed complex rhythmic pattern with such ease and they all were having so much fun. I decided I wanted to join so that I could continue my growth as an Indian music vocalist alongside my journey as a composer.
What has been your most memorable experience with the Ensemble?
In Spring 2014, I wrote a piece, Bhumi, for the ensemble and I got perform the piece at the Berklee Performance Center. The entire process, from the conception of the song to its final execution was such a great learning experience for me. I think this is when I actually got to witness the power of collaboration. Not just Annette but so many of my friends from the group were contributing ideas and valuable thoughts about the instrumentation, arrangement and many other minute details that helped the song evolve into something beautiful. I truly believe that when people collaborate, they attach a part of their energy, their being, to the piece of art, and that helps the piece to transform into a conversation that can reach out to convey wonderful messages. This is exactly what I experienced the evolution of Bhumi.
What would you like to share about your journey at Berklee so far?
Working so closely with Annette is a great opportunity. I have learnt so much about arranging and performance technique just by observing her. Every musician needs good teachers and guides who not only help their music grow but also teach them things about life through music. This is important because what we are in life is what we create or perform. I have grown more and more comfortable with my musicality by spending time with this group of passionate artists. I have found some great friends by being here. This ensemble has made me grow from a shy and scared person/musician to someone who wants to take risks for the sake of art and learning new things.