Indian-German-Canadian composer of mostly stage, chamber and multimedia works that are routinely being performed worldwide; he is also active as a conductor, theatre director, university researcher, curator, performer, visual artist and writer.
Bhagwati studied Composition with Edison Denisov and Boguslaw Schäffer and Conducting with Kurt Prestel at the Salzburg Mozarteum from 1984-87 and Composition with Wilhelm Killmayer at the Musikhochschule Munich from 1987-90, where he graduated with distinction. 1995-96 Cursus annuel de Composition et Informatique Musicale, IRCAM, Paris, where he encountered Brian Ferneyhough and Tristan Murail.
Among his numerous honors are the European Composition Prize from the Academy of Arts Berlin (1991, for Variations) and the Ernst-von-Siemens-Förderpreis (1992, 2003).
He has served as a fellow at IRCAM (1997-98) and ZKM in Karlsruhe (1998-99) and has served as composer-in-residence or guest professor or research fellow at Royaumont (1997), the Abbaye de la Prée (1997) and Darmstadt (2003), to the Beethoven Orchestra Bonn (1999-2000), at the Villa Concordia Bamberg (2004/5), to the California Institute of the Arts (2007), to Turku Music Academy (2009) and to Heidelberg University (2009) and, during his recent sabbatical, at the Berlin University of Arts UdK (2013/14).
His mostly evening-length compositions have been featured at many leading festivals, including the Munich Biennale (1998, 2002), Éclat Stuttgart (1999, 2011), Millennium Sangat Mumbai (2000), maerzmusik Berlin (2002, 2005), Darmstadt Spring Festival (2003), Venice Biennale (2006), ISCM World New Music Festival (2006, 2012), Wien Modern (2008), Montréal Nouvelles Musiques (2011, 2013), Bargemusic’s winter festival (2014), and he was invited as a composer of honour to the Frühlingstagung für Neue Musik Darmstadt (2003) and the Time of Music Festival Viitasaari Finland (2014).
He has written 6 evening-length operas and experimental music-theatre works, among them “Three Women (1997, Centre Pompidou) on texts by Plath, Rushdie and Tschechow, “Ramanujan” (1998, Munich Biennale) on the Indian math genius, and “Prinzessin Süssüsan” (2008, State Opera Bonn), a children opera with full orchestra and choir. His in-situ installation-performances could be experienced in Tanzenberg Klagenfurt (1994/2005), Offenes Kulturhaus Linz (1995), Neues Theater Munich (1995), Centre Pompidou Paris (1997), Theaterhaus Stuttgart (1999), Stadtmuseum Ulm (2000), Haus der Kulturen der Welt Berlin (2000), ZKM Karlsruhe (2002), REDCAT Los Angeles (2007), Schömer Haus Vienna (2008), Concordia University Montreal (2010), Agora Hydro Quebec (2011, 2013), Mumuth Graz (2013).
As a writer, Sandeep Bhagwati has written many articles for European and Indian publications, some of which appear in the collection Komponieren im 21. Jahrhundert (1998, Kunstuniversität Graz). He is also a regular contributor of music programs and interviews to German and Canadian public-radio stations and has contributed to newspapers and blogs on matters pertaining to new music. His academic peer-reviewed papers and invited articles have been published by Springer Heidelberg, Leuwen University Press, University of Toronto Press, Routledge, etc.
He served as artistic director of the concert series Kammer-Musik-Utopien in Munich in 1989-90 and with Moritz Eggert, he co-founded the biannual new music festival A•DEvantgarde in Munich in 1991 and served as its artistic director from 1991-95. He also assisted Hans Werner Henze and Gerd Kühr with workshops at the Münchener Biennale from 1992-94 and founded the festival KlAngRiffe – Festival for Risky Music in Karlsruhe in 2003.
As a conductor, he has mainly led performances of his own work, in all genres from chamber music to opera, at many prestigious venues, such as St. Martin-in-the-Fields London, Berlin Philharmonie, UDK Concert Hall Berlin, DB Clarke Theatre Montréal, etc. In 2013, he became the founder (with Elke Moltrecht) and artistic/music director of the Berlin-based Ensemble Extrakte, a post-exotistic, non-world-music ensemble in which each of its all-star musicians is a Berliner but comes from a different musical background, from Berlin Club Intelligent Dance Music to Bulgarian Folk, from Korean to Syrian art music, from Free Jazz to Chinese silk and bamboo music, from Indian Dhrupad to Armenian Duduk.
As a theatre director, he has mainly directed his own theatrical projects with actors and musicians, such as Three Women (Paris Centre Pompidou 1997), Schnee Schrift Sprache Schweben (Munich Gasteig 1995), Mind the Gaps (Linz OK 1995), PersonAlia (Montreal FCSmith Theatre 2007) and Lamentations (Montreal Hexagram 2009). As a performer, he has often participated in many aspects of his own installation-performances, and has also designed and redefined concert spaces for his site-specific works.
With Gauri Tripathi and the Ondine Ensemble, he gave composition and dance workshops for children in London in 1993 and 1997. He led zukunft@bphil composition workshops for Simon Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra in 2004/2005. He has conducted masterclasses and given lectures and held courses at over 20 universities worldwide, most recently at Viitasaari Finland in July 2014 and at the Ulysses International Workshop for Young Composers in Latvia in August 2014.
He has served as the curator of contemporaryXchange since 2001, a project of Ensemble Modern and the Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin, which promotes the creative exchange of Indian musicians and new music and has been highlighted at festivals throughout Europe and India, most recently at the Concertgebouw Amsterdam in 2008. In addition, he served as the curator of the festival Rasalîla-Spiel der Gefühle in Berlin in 2003, which featured the results of this exchange process, as well as newly-commissioned works by composers of the Indian diaspora.
Since 2006, he is Canada Research Chair for Inter-X Art at Concordia University Montréal where he directs matralab, a research node for interdisciplinary, intercultural, intermedia art. Before, from 2000 onwards, he taught as Professor für Komposition und Multimedia at the Musikhochschule Karlsruhe. He also taught as a visiting professor of electronic music at the Institut für Elektronische Musik of the Universität Graz in 1998. From 2008 to 2011, he also was the director of Hexagram Concordia, a centre for research-creation in media arts with a faculty of 45 artist-researchers and extensive state-of-the-art facilities.
As a principal researcher he has, since 2006, obtained several large and smaller research-creation grants to the count of almost $ 2 million, and as a co-applicant he has been involved in successful grant applications totalling over $ 6 million. These grants were obtained primarily from Canadian and Quebec academic funds, such as Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, Canada Research Chair Programme, Canada Fund for Innovation and Fonds de Recherche de Quebec.
His current research-creation centers on comprovisation, inter-traditional aesthetics, the aesthetics of interdisciplinarity, gestural theatre, sonic theatre and interactive visual and non-visual scores.
CV – Sandeep Bhagwati (pdf)