Sruti is the Hindusthani word for microtone, the smallest interval of pitch the ear can detect, according to Indian music theory. Sruti became a group in September 1985, when tabla player/multi-instrumentalist Matt Finstrom met sitarist/guitarist Don Reeve. In 1986 Finstrom's sitar teacher Darshanamali Jayawardena, from Sri Lanka, joined the group and performed on sitar, dilruba and esraj.
By this time Finstrom, Sruti's director, had also learned to play the santur and Don Reeve concentrated on bansuri and guitar. When, in 1990, Darshi Jayawardena relocated to New Jersey, Finstrom took over on sitar and Todd Hammes replaced him on tabla.
During the summer of 2002, vocalist/mridangist Vishwas Seshadri and vocalist/harmonium player Aditya Kalavagunta joined the group, adding a diversity of vocal styles to the groups repertoire. More recently, the group's sound became further enhanced with the addition of mridangist V.Sharatchandra Bhargav. Holly Finstrom has accompanied the group on tambura and percussion since the beginning.
The group has developed a diverse repertoire over the years including ragas, dhuns, Sri Lankan folk songs, original guitar/tabla compositions, and percussion items and now includes bhajans, ghazals, kirtans. qawwali songs and popular items as well.
Matt Finstrom - founder and musical director - sitar, santur, dilruba, tabla, nahl, morsing
Holly Finstrom - tambura, manjira
Vishwas Seshadri - vocals, mridangam, harmonium
Aditya Kalavagunta - vocals, harmonium
Sharatchandra Bhargav - tabla, mridangam
Rajesh Radhakrishnan - guitar, vocals, bass
Vijayanand Nagarajan - violin
Prithi Pichai - vocals, manjira
Don Reeve - guitar, bass, bansuri
Joss Jaffe - tabla, dotar
Tapasya Patki - violin, vocals
Kalyani Mandyam Nayaka - vocals
V. Sharatchandra Bhargav has studied the Mridangam, a double-headed drum used in Carnatic classical music (the classical music of south India), for 15 years, under Sri A. Rajachar from Bangalore, India. He has passed the Vidwat examination in Mridangam, which is the highest level government examination for music in India. Sharat has performed for the All India Radio, and for Doordarshan, India's national television network as well as in many live concerts.
Holly Finstrom has performed on tambura since 1985 and is a founding member of Sruti. In 1993 she accompanied Pandit Ravi Shankar in a Tucson performance at Centennial Hall. She also accompanied Darshanamali Jayawardena in a solo sitar recital in Tucson in April, 2000 at the U of A. She is the lead vocalist in Tucson's Fine Stream Gamelan and also plays a number of gamelan instruments. Holly has also studied West African drumming and has performed with Nanfoule, the Rhythm Method and Sanjaya.
Matt Finstrom is the director and founder of Sruti. His musical career began in percussion at the age of 10, and has included many western styles such as rock, jazz, symphonic, orchestral, country/western, and avant garde. He started studying the sitar in 1982, the tabla in 1983 and the dilruba in 1984, by personal research. In 1985, while performing at the Festival of India at the U of A, he met Darshi Jayawardena, who became his sitar and dilruba teacher and later herself joined Sruti. Along the way, Matt learned to play santur and is currently studying the sarangi, mridangam and morsing. He sets up and tunes his sitar in the tradition of Vilayat Khan. His current sitar teacher is Jaya Jog, a disciple of Ustad Usman Khan. Matt has also been learning to sing bhajans, qawwalis and Bollywood tunes while accompanying the group on synthesizer.Matt has not had a regular tabla teacher but has received impromptu lessons from Varn M. Chandola, Ashwin Batish, and Kumar Bose. He has also studied and recorded with sarod/oud master H. Aram Gulezian and the late Stephen James. Aside from performing, Matt has delivered lectures on Indian Music at the U of A for the Oriental Studies Department and for "Arts Encounter" preceding the 2000 performance of Ravi Shankar. Matt has performed on sitar at Bharatanatyam Arangetram recitals in Tucson and Phoenix with acclaimed vocalist Neela Ramanuja, nattuvangam Kalashri Asha Gopal, mridangist Kalashri N.G. Ravi, flute player Rajkamal Nagaraj and percussionist S.G. Pramath Kiran.
Matt is also the director and builder of Tucson's Fine Stream Gamelan, which for 20 years has performed the music of Indonesia. He also started The Rhythm Method, an Afro-pop/World Beat Band and is an accomplished performer on the djembe and the balafon, serving as lead drummer for West African dance troupes such as Nanfoule and Juju Bey. Other work includes a number of recording projects. Matt has appeared as a sideman on recordings for Don Reeve, Kevin Bowman, Soundings of the Planet, and in his own avant garde group The Secret of Fish.
Kalyani Mandyam Nayaka has studied Carnatic classical vocal music for 17 years under the tutelage of her mother, Smt. Neela Ramanuja from Bangalore, India. She has successfully completed the junior and senior levels of music examinations in Vocal, a state government board exam in India. Kalyani has participated and won prizes at many college and university level competitions and has given many performances in Bangalore and the All India Radio. She has also trained a number of students at the Madhura School of Music, an organization run by Mrs. Neela. Kalyani has been a part of Sruti since fall of 2007 and is a 2nd year MBA student at the University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona. She enjoys listening to all genres of music and aspires to become like her mother.
Aditya Kalavagunta Gifted with a strong and powerful voice, Aditya began training in Carnatic music at the age of 10. Later, he became interested in Hindustani (north Indian Classical) music and started singing bhajans at the Satya Sai Institute of higher education, where he had the opportunity to study with great masters such as Suresh Wadkar. Aditya has also learned to play the harmonium while singing.. He joined Sruti during the summer of 2002
Vishwas Seshadri received training in Carnatic music from his mother Chitra Seshadri, a renowned vocalist, and disciple of Smt. D.K. Pattammal. Vishwas has performed vocal concerts in Delhi with Chitra Seshadri and received critical acclaim in "The Hindu" and "The Delhi Express". He performed in the Sringeri Matt in the presence of Sringeri Acharya himself and was advised by T.R. Subramaniam and other artists who attended, to take up music as a career. Later Vishwas diversified his repertoire by learning Hindustani styles such as bhajans and ghazals. In December 2000, he gave a bhajan and ghazal performance in San Francisco which lasted nearly 6 hours by demand. Vishwas also studied mridangam with Kalaimamani Sri. Ramanathapuram M.N. Kandaswamy Pillai for 2 years. He joined Sruti in the early summer of 2002.
Rajesh Radhakrishnan started his musical journey at the age of 8. He studied Carnatic vocals (South Indian Classical) for 7 years. He was also introduced to western music in high school and started playing the guitar at the age of 16. Rajesh plays the rhythm guitar and is equally adept at playing western tunes or Indian ones.
Vijayanand Nagarajan started learning violin at the age of 9 from Sri Puddukottai T.R.Vijayakumar who was himself a disciple of Sri Lalgudi Jayaraman. He has won several prizes participating in various competitions organized by Indian fine arts, IIT-Saarang, All India Radio etc. A recipient of a scholarship awarded by the Bharat Kalachar in the year 1994, he has also given some performances accompanying vocal artists. Currently pursuing graduate studies at the University of Arizona, he joined Shruthi in the year 2003.
Prithi Pichai vocals (bio forthcoming)
Don Reeve From the highly purified atmosphere of the Sonoran Desert comes a multi-talented musician who is captivating listeners from all walks of life. Don Reeve is a composer, performer and recording artist whose work draws upon a diverse range of cultural and spiritual influences, realized on guitars, mandolin, sitar, flutes and many other instruments. In his career beginning in 1980, Don has established deep roots in the Tucson musical community. As a founding member of the regionally popular reggae band Neon Prophet, he was responsible for much of their original material. These days,in addition to his solo performances, he also plays with the Fine Stream Gamelan, Indian music ensemble Sruti, the Jones Brothers, a country-bluegrass-rock-folk band and Mandala, a pyschadelic-trance-dance band. Reeve's broad scope of influences is most evident in his approach to the acoustic guitar. There is no easy way to pigeonhole or categorize the style of playing he has developed over the years. Electronic effects add to the sonic palette Don employs, but the audio impression of the acoustic guitar remains the dominant element. His recordings include the solo Nature's Way and several collaborative efforts with Soundings of the Planet, Spirit Wild on the Crash Landing label and his latest, Colors for a Rainy Day When he's not playing solo concerts, Don can be found doing things in many parts of the musical spectrum. From Indian ragas and folk songs to original rock, and Javanese gamelan to acoustic country and bluegrass, Reeve has many outlets for his talents. All people with ears owe it to themselves to check him out. Don has performed throughout Arizona, New Mexico, California, Colorado, Oregon, Washington and Hawaii and has contributed tracks form many albums as well as producing albums for other artists and is available for performance, sessions and production.
Joss Jaffe has been playing tabla since 1995. He was introduced to the percussion of India through listening to the devotional chanting of his parents Arno and Evelyn, and their meditation teacher Baba Muktananda. In 1998 at the age of 17, Joss lived in Nepal for 3 months with Pandit Homnath Upadhyaya of the Benares Gharana. Returning to California, Joss studied under Pandit Swapan Chaudhuri of the Lucknow Gharana at the Ali Akbar College of Music in San Rafael. Joss has also studied briefly with Ustad Zakir Hussein. Joss has classically accompanied Maestro Montino Bourbon, Pandit Homnath Upadhyaya, and Jaya Jog in concert. He has twice performed in Swapan Chaudhuri's tabla ensemble and once with Zakir Hussein's tabla ensemble at the Omega Institute in New York. Over the years he has performed numerous classical and non-classical concerts in The United States, Nepal, and India. In addition to tabla Joss is studying sarod, dotar, guitar, bass, percussion, and composition. His teachers include, Ustad Ali Akbar Khan, Maestro Montino Bourbon, Gregg Johnson, C.K. Ladzekpo, and Steve Coleman. Joss was invited to join Sruti Music of India in September of 2005.
Tapasya Patki got introduced to Hindustani Classical Instrumental music in her early childhood through Sitar playing rendered by her mother Anuradha Patki. She also received initial training from her mother for semi classical and film music on harmonium. Her genius with the Violin manifested from childhood itself. Her humble achievement in mastering Violin to present Hindustani Classical Music is remarkable. Initial instrumental music education has been accomplished through training by her mother on Sitar, followed by Mr. Manoranjan Dey on Violin, with advanced level instrumental lessons from Ms. Krutangi Patel and Dr. D.D. Burman. She studied vocal music from Mr. Vishwajeet Ringe of the Gwalior Gharana (son of Acharya Tanarang). She has formally completed a six-year Bachelor of Music degree and secured first division in Sangeet Visharad (Violin) from Akhil Bhartiya Gandharva Mahavidyalaya, Miraj, India. Tapasya Patki has performed as violin soloist and also accompanied on violin for light music performances at several functions with public audiences. She also plays semi-classical and film music on Mandolin and is a lead guitarist. Blessed with gifted, melodious voice, she enjoys singing Old Bollywood Film music. She has also experimented with learning and teaching music through software systems like RagaParichaya, Swarshala, Melody Assistant, and ABCMUS. Apart from violin and music performances, she is actively involved in gazal and song-writing and song composition. She pens down beautiful metered and un-metered lyrics, and does music composition for them. She has keen interest in exploring the potentials of Indian Classical Music for stress reductions. She continues to perfect her craft with boundless curiosity. Currently pursuing Graduate studies program in Computer Science at University of Arizona, she joined Sruti, Tucson, AZ in August 2007.