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Two Indian Americans win Young Jazz Composers Award


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New York: Two Indian Americans, Kavita Shah and Aakash Mittal, were named Feb. 4 winners of the 2013 Herb Alpert Young Jazz Composer Awards. The recognition, which includes a cash award, is bestowed by the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers Foundation to jazz composers under the age of 30.

In announcing the recipients, ASCAP Foundation president Paul Williams said, “The talented young music creators we recognize through this program represent the future of jazz composition.”

Shah, 27, and Mittal, 27, were selected through a juried national competition and were among 29 recipients and six honorable mentions.

In addition to composing, Shah is also a jazz vocalist, singer, and arranger. A native New Yorker, she studied classical piano from the age of five and has been performing regularly at Carnegie Hall and the Lincoln Center since the age of 10 as a member of the Young People’s Chorus of NYC.

She has a master’s in Jazz Voice from the Manhattan School of Music and a B.A. in Latin American Studies from Harvard.

Shah incorporates elements of Indian, Brazilian, and Malian music into her jazz-based repertoire. The traditional sounds of the tabla and kora can be found in her debut album, Visions, which is slated for release this year.

A native of Texas, Mittal is a saxophonist, flutist, clarinetist, and educator, as well as a composer. He received a B.M. in Saxophone Performance from the University of Colorado at Boulder.

Mittal’s primary ensemble, The Aakash Mittal Quartet, performs all original music. He also leads a standards-based jazz duo, a Brazilian duo, and a classical flute and harp duet. Additionally, Mittal has been running a private lessons studio since 2002. He has taught jazz and classical approaches to saxophone, clarinet, flute, composition, and music theory.


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