Nistha Raj

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Exit 1



Nistha Raj transports to international audiences a rare, evocative and soothing sound of classical North Indian (Hindustani) music on the 5-string acoustic violin.  A distinguished performer and teacher of Hindustani classical and Western classical violin in the Washington, DC community, Nistha has performed in the United Nations, The Kennedy Center for Performing Arts, and the Indian Embassy in Washington, DC. Internationally, she has performed at the U.S. Embassy in Colombia, and Poland, and Canada.  Nistha is a recipient of multiple grants from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, including the 2012 Artist Fellowship. A versatile musician, Nistha pursues new horizons through a melding of tradition with contemporary innovation.  She performs regularly with the Jazz trio The Fourth Stream, partners with GRAMMY nominated hip hop artist Christylez Bacon and six-string electric cellist Wytold, and has recorded on rock band NRI’s album.

Nistha Raj’s initial training in music began with western classical violin at the age of nine, which she pursued seriously until graduation from college. She received a B.A. in music with honors from the University of Houston in 2003. Although born and raised in the U.S., because of her Indian heritage, she was exposed to the classical music of India from her childhood and had an intense desire to delve deeper into a study of the music.  To immerse herself in the music and culture of India, in 2004, Nistha traveled to the small town of Vrindavan in India to study the oldest form of Indian classical music, Dhrupad, with Tarun Krishna Das, disciple of Vidur Mallick. She spent seven months immersed in the music and instantly discovered a deep connection and affinity for the music and thus began her journey and desire to always be surrounded by this music.

In 2005, after being selected as the only American to receive a scholarship from the Indian Council for Cultural Relations, Nistha completed two years of intensive formal training at the Gandharva Maha Vidyalaya in New Delhi, India. She trained under the guidance of Sharat Srivastava, the foremost disciple of his grandfather, Sri Joi Srivastava, belonging to the Senia Gharana to which legendary artists like Ali Akbar Khansahib and Pandit Ravi Shankar belong to. In addition, to further increase her understanding of Hindustani music, she also trained in vocal music with Meeta Pandit, who is the sixth in the unbroken lineage of musicians of the legendary Pandit Family of Gwailor. She also had the privilege to receive guidance from Dr. N Rajam, one of the foremost Hindustani violinists.Upon her return to the US in 2007, Nistha has remained constant in her pursuit of music by continuing to develop her skills and technique. She is currently receiving training from Kolkata based Sarode player, Prattyush Banerjee, disciple of Buddhadev Das Gupta.   In total, Nistha has over 20 years of classical violin training in the U.S. and India. She also holds a MA in Arts Management from the George Mason University.

“Her keen musicianship and talent has been highly appreciated and lauded by the audiences”

-Virander Paul, Minister of Press, Information & Culture,

Embassy of India

Musicians on "Exit 1"

Christylez Bacon -
Aakash Mittal  -
Rangashree Varadarjan -

Nistha's teacher: Prattyush Banerjee -

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World Music/Contemporary | Jazz | World Music/Traditional


Press Contact

Garrett Baker

Current News

  • 03/08/2014
  • Washington, DC

India Without Borders: Nistha Raj & Behzad Habibzai in DC March 8th

The violin begins to play a raga. At the pause, just when the tabla should enter, a beatboxer begins a rhythm and worlds collide. The music takes on fresh colors and barriers crumble. This is the sound of Nistha Raj and what she’s created on her inventive solo debut album, Exit 1 (releasing February 26th, 2014).

For many years she studied Western and Hindustani (North Indian) classical music. But, she emphasizes, Exit 1 “is not a classical album. It’s rooted in Hindustani...

Upcoming News

  • 03/08/2014, Washington, DC, ATLAS, 7:00 PM View
  • 02/26/2014, "Exit 1" View

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