July 11, 2023

“Individually, rivers are distinct, with their specific sources, discernible shapes, and colours, but when they meet as in this collaboration, they come together in a way that makes it impossible to deconstruct.”

– Mohamed Assani

About this event

In nature, the places where bodies of water meet each other create nutrient-rich and totally unique ecosystems. Historically, these estuaries have been places where people gathered and communities thrived. Fresh water and access to the ocean ensured that cultures could transmit across the waves and resources could be shared.

These themes are explored in a suite of new genre-defying music composed by sitarist Mohamed Assani. This was a sublime evening showcasing a special live musical collaboration between South Asian and Western musicians. Each musical tradition brings with it rich histories and stories, currents that collide and coalesce into a new tide that flows into a greater reservoir of creative expression.

*Excerpts from this suite were previously performed for ISF2021’s digital programming. Assani has since written five more pieces to create a full concert-length repertoire, and we are delighted to host the premiere performance of this completed work.

This event is curated by Anoushka Ratnarajah.


Mohamed Assani (He/Him)

Mohamed Assani is a sitarist and composer, known for his genre-defying approach to music-making. Trained in both Indian/Pakistani and Western Classical music, his music-making seamlessly draws from different genres and cultures with depth and authenticity. According to  the Georgia Straight Newspaper, “Assani is both a musician who’s  deeply rooted in the artistic traditions of South Asia and a one-of-a-kind  innovator who’s bent on ensuring that those age-old forms will survive and grow in the modern era.” Mohamed was nominated as ‘Instrumental Artist of the Year’ for the Western Canadian Music Awards in 2021.

Mohamed has brought his sitar to new audiences across the globe through innovative work and collaborations that have stretched the boundaries of his instrument. Career highlights include co-writing a sitar concerto that was performed by the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, performing for his Royal Highness the Aga Khan, and being invited to teach at London’s prestigious Royal Academy of Music. In April 2020, Mohamed launched his newest album, Wayfinder. Using a refreshing, contemporary sound palette, Wayfinder incorporates a range of stylistic influences, including Indian/Pakistani Classical, Middle Eastern, jazz, funk, Western Classical, ambient & electronic music. According to NohoArtDistrict.com,  Assani is “pushing his passion into the future, with a glance to his past and the history of this amazing instrument, but never shying away from what is new and exciting. He is at the frontier of cultural hybridization, leading us deeper into the lush landscape of worldwide music.”

Jeanette Bernal Singh

Mexican-born violinist Jeanette Bernal-Singh has won many national and international awards and competitions. She first appeared as soloist at the age of 16 with the Victoria Symphony. At age 17, she won the concerto competition to solo and tour with the National Youth Orchestra of Canada. She was a prizewinner at the Henryk Szerying International Violin Competition, where she was awarded a violin, and her soloist experiences have included appearances with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, St. Cecilia Chamber Orchestra and West Coast Symphony Orchestra. Her violin has taken her all over North America, Europe, South East Asia, India and Australia. She played with Ustad Amjad Ali Khan through the Indian Summer Festival.

Amarjeet Singh

Amarjeet Singh, the founder of Naad Arts Centre, has a Masters degree in Music and many years’ experience, performing tabla solos as well as accompanying a myriad of leading Indian and Western musicians and dancers at international music and dance festivals. He started learning the tabla from his elder brother, Mr. Deedar Singh, followed by Guru Shri Thakur Kishan Singh ji of Benaras Gharana.

Amarjeet was appointed a Cultural Ambassador by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations, New Delhi, to teach and perform tabla in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. Later on he served as a staff artist at the Faculty of Music and Fine Arts, University of Delhi. A scholarship winner from the Music and Drama Academy of Rajasthan, Amarjeet Singh has also won many laurels, such as: Sangeet Bhushan – the Rajasthan Education Department, the Leadership Circle Award – Canadian Red Cross, Heritage Defender Award – Darpan Magazine, and Innovation in the Arts – Drishti Magazine. In 2017. In 2019 Singh was a nominee for the Mayor’s Arts Award from the City of Surrey.

JeanSe Le Doujet

JeanSe Le Doujet was born and raised in the small town of Pontivy in Brittany, France. He began his musical education on the piano as a child, with his musician father, and picked up a bass guitar at 15, never to look back. From high school rock bands to university metal, jazz, pop projects, JeanSe broadened his musical horizons and mixing his influences so he could bring more than just a bass line to the music he was playing. Since arriving in Vancouver a decade ago, he has collaborated with many local artists including Tonye Aganaba, The Paperboys, Ashleigh Ball, and Mohamed Assani

Curtis Andrews (He/Him)

Curtis Andrews is a Canadian-based musician with global persuasions.  A percussionist/composer who creates music that is informed by his many years of experience with West African, South Indian and jazz traditions yet transcends most categories. His personal musical journeys over the years have extended to villages and metropolises of Ghana, India, South Africa and Zimbabwe, and he has developed a deep knowledge of the history and performance of music from these areas. His personal mentors have included (the late) Don Wherry, Trichy Sankaran and Frederick Kwasi Dunyo; he continues to study and perform with these masters whenever possible. He leads his own ensemble, The Offering of Curtis Andrews, to play his award-winning original music, and collaborates with a diverse range of artists using mbira, South Indian percussion, drumset, and other percussion from around the world.

Katrina Chitty (she/her)

Katrina Chitty joined the Vancouver Symphony viola section in 2019. Katrina originally began her musical education on the violin at age four – and only a couple years later, became one of the youngest members to join the Surrey Junior Strings. This early introduction to orchestral life inspired her throughout her musical studies, and several years later she was accepted at the Conservatoire Darius Milhaud in France to further her musical education. Following that, Katrina attended Wilfrid Laurier University for her bachelor’s degree, studying with Jerzy Kaplenek. Finding that a switch to viola better suited her, Katrina then completed her master’s degree at McGill University under the direction of André Roy. She spent a year performing chamber music around the world on cruise ships with her quartet, and then spent several years freelancing in Toronto with the Toronto Symphony, National Ballet, and Canadian Opera Company. 

Cristian Márkos (He/Him)

Romanian-Canadian cellist Cristian Márkos has been a member of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra since 1999. Born in Iași, Romania, Cristian earned his B.Mus in Music Performance from the Music Academy in Bucharest, Romania. He went on to the University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee for post-graduate studies with Mr. Wolfgang Laufer, late cellist of the renowned Fine Arts Quartet.

Cristian sat as Associate Principal Cellist with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra for the 2012-2013 concert season.  As an accomplished symphony and chamber musician, he has toured with the Mont Blanc Symphony Orchestra under the baton of the late Maestro/cellist Mstislav Rostropovich, and as a soloist Cristian has performed on stages in Romania, France, Germany, Austria, Greece, Italy, United States, and Canada.


This event was sponsored by Creative BC, David Lam Centre, and Riverside Recycling.