Portfolio ‘Xylem’ for voice, cello, drums, drone, is a mini opera commissioned in 2021 by the Minnesota Opera. It has been conceived in a folk opera format of stylized speech and singing. It tells the story of a tree named Tara (meaning ‘they’ in Bangla), with a libidinous network of roots that touch every inch of the globe. She is a master storyteller that draws listeners from far and wide, including Ubirajara the snake that travels many time zones to meet her. The creators of this work and the orchestra stand as part of the visual canvas they are creating. Set to a stunning libretto by Shinjan Sengupta, this opera in Bangla is a one-of-a-kind for an American opera company to commission. Story | Music | Vocals Ritika GangulyArt Direction Roshan GanuLibretto | Guitar | Music | Vocals Shinjan SenguptaCello Benjamin OsterhousePercussion Matt BarberStage Direction Emily Bishai This piece extends a larger goal I have around assigning memory and meaning to ancestral poetry in the Bengali language for new global audiences. Renowned New Delhi-based Hispanist / my father, Shamu Ganguly translated a 200-year-old Baul poem into Spanish. The unique thing about these translated works is the retention of the rhythm, meter, and rhyme of the original Sufi poem in Bangla, and the tone, vibrato, and phrasings of Baul oral storytelling in a different language. Taking big strides in genre-bending, this composition brings Baul (Bengali folk) phrasing, tonality, and intonation to bear on other genres of music. The studio recording of this song was made possible by the 2018 MRAC Next Step Fund Award. The Bangla poem ‘বাড়ীর কাছে আরশিনগর’ (Barir kachhe Arshinogor) composed by the 19th C Bengali saint Lalon Fakir theorizes the neighbor. Lalon’s philosophy here – known for its pluralistic and radical views – prioritizes the neighbor and their invisible, familiar presence that has the ability to change one’s life.Spanish Translation Shamu GangulyFlute Anurag RastogiGuitar Mintal GaziTabla | Percussion Pankaj BanaiVoice | Composition Ritika Ganguly This is one of six pieces from the musical work ‘Osthir- states of Effervescence’. It premiered at The Cedar Cultural Center, Minneapolis, in 2016, featuring collaborators Nathalie Ramirez and Nikhil Mawkin from New Delhi, India. This is a composition of a 19th century poem by the Sufi / Baul poet Lalon Fakir, shared with me by a Baul poet-practitioner that I met during my travels to a Baul festival in the Birbhum district in West Bengal, India. He was singing his version of this poem, and I asked if I could interpret the poem in a different way. His enthusiastic and open-minded response led to this song. With this project, I took my first dive into generating ‘new’ music from the rich tradition of oratures and written literatures in different corners of the globe – Victorian England, contemporary Chile, and pre-colonial Bengal. I composed the music for this project by keeping an ear out for the inherent musicality in literature. Flute Nathalie RamirezGuitar Nikhil MawkinVoice | Composition Ritika Ganguly Apertures is a bricolage of stories and art forms. I was commissioned by SEWA-AIFW to tell stories of domestic violence in a creative way. The piece is a composition of four survivor stories from Minnesota through the lens of survivor stories in New Delhi and Chennai. The soundscape for the poetry I identified has been designed to be carried by the voice, rather than by instruments. With this work, I extend my artistic priority of using the voice in a variety of ways as a compositional resource. The visualization in this transdisciplinary piece has been designed and manifested by Alia Jeraj – a local shadow puppeteer. Shadow Puppetry Alia JerajSound design | Voice | Composition Ritika Ganguly Via the Odd Measures Even-ing Showcase at the Cedar Cultural Center in 2019, I introduced new methodologies of diversifying programming and expanding access to new artist communities. Conducting auditions based on unconventional musical themes such as odd-time signatures in music from around the globe attracted ‘new’, never-before-heard or seen musicians to the main stage of The Cedar. We had 40 artists from Minnesota audition; seven were shortlisted to present their musical works at a fully sold-out show in November 2019.My goal with creating this project was to give access to musicians who have, for structural reasons, been left out of the grant-led arts landscape in the state. This showcase was made possible by the Cedar Cultural Center’s initiative ‘The Artist Collective’ in 2019. I love this poem by my mother Kaveri Ganguly so much that I had to compose it. Like she has done with the words, I wanted to pay close attention to re-producing the ebb and flow of water as part of the composition itself, rather than depending on the sounds of water. It speaks of the River Ganga – a river of memory, longing and corpses. This composition was made possible by the 2016-2017 Cedar Commissions award. Poem Kaveri GangulyGuitar Shinjan SenguptaVoice | Composition Ritika Ganguly This was the first composition where I sowed the seeds of how / where poem can meet song. It was one of five pieces on an EP that never saw the light of day. My ex-friend and I were driving back home from just having watched the ‘Chronicles of Narnia,’ and she wrote the lyrics for this song on the drive back home in her head, and I composed it simultaneously in my head. Recorded at Quarter Note Studios, New Delhi.Lyrics Nandita BasuVoice | Composition Ritika Ganguly The performance art piece ‘All Exits are Clearly Marked.’ premiered at the Pillsbury House Theater, Minneapolis, MN in 2018. I put 16th Century Baul writings on the medicalization of the body in dialogue with our contemporary experiences of Big Pharma. Reverberating through this piece is my location in the American politico-medico-legal system as an immigrant. I rendered my compositions of traditional poetry a capella to a live audience in order to present the dots that I have had to join between doctors, drug reps, drug companies, policy makers and patients to make sense of the American health marketplace. My artistic challenge here was not only to legibly convey my own story, but to construct within the space of that theater, a shared existence with the audience. The piece is enriched by the use of binaural beats to create crushing sonic scapes.This was made possible by the Naked Stages Fellowship, 2017. Audio engineer Peter MorrowArtistic Direction: Molly Van AverySound Design | Composition | Concept | Script | Voice Ritika Ganguly This piece demonstrates the transdisciplinary layering in storytelling that is at the center of all my work. Instead of writing the lyrics of my own songs, I take other people’s words and worlds, and expand them. This is a poem by my mother about ‘a Knock,’ a missed opportunity, and a resolve to always address what comes knocking at the door. I am grateful to the Cedar Cultural Center for commissioning the composition and the building of this song. Poem Kaveri GangulyFlute Anurag RastogiGuitar Mintal GaziTabla | Percussion Pankaj BanaiVoice | Composition Ritika Ganguly This piece is an experiment in odd-timed signatures in musical traditions around the world. A popular Macedonian folk song has been layered over a much-loved Rabindra Sangeet in a re-imagined meter. As an overture, I borrowed and composed lines from a Lalon poem to introduce this exciting and ongoing co-dreaming with my collaborators. Producer Raga Labs Accordion Steven HobertGuitar Julian ManzaraUpright Bass Liz DraperTabla Marcus WiseVoices in Macedonian Sarah Larsson | Katherine ParentVoice in Bangla Ritika Ganguly I am one face of the duo ‘Ritika and Shinjan.’ We are loved and known here in Minnesota and back home in India for our unique renditions of 200 year-old songs and poems in Bangla. As a duo, we invite adventurous audiences to our genre-bending performances, and along with our taste in music, we share a love for long-leaf tea steeped in boiling water for 3 minutes. This song is a re-construction of a remembered tune that we heard at a nightlong re-telling of the Mahabharata in Kolkata, India. The song stuck in our hearts so hard that we ended up singing it at a time of extreme isolation in the thick of the pandemic. Videography | Video Editing | Guitar | Flute | Music arrangement Shinjan SenguptaVoice Ritika Ganguly A more recent curation on the Cedar Public Access Channel upheld the urgent work of the criminal justice non-profit SEEN. Created by Emily Baxter through We Are All Criminals in partnership with the Minnesota Prison Writers Workshop, the Minnesota Department of Corrections and the St. Paul & Minnesota Foundation, SEEN is a photography project that foregrounds the work of individuals currently residing at the Stillwater and Moose Lake Correctional Facilities – as artists. Seven incarcerated artists collaborate with seven Twin Cities-based artists in SEEN’s planned partnership with the Weisman Art Museum. In this episode, three inside artists are collaborating with artists on the ‘outside’ to create these performance art pieces. This activity was made possible by the Cedar Cultural Center’s initiative ‘The Artist Collective’ in 2020.