New York composer and guitarist Rafiq Bhatia ’10 seeks to shatter preconceptions about how much can be said without a word and, for that matter, who can say it. His music has been described by the New York Times as “transcending real sound in real time with the unexpected.”
Bhatia’s debut album as a producer, Breaking English, sets out to challenge existing music vocabulary with a language of its own. He brings his globe-spanning mix of twisted rock, warped jazz, and electronics to campus for a performance at 9 p.m. Friday, March 8 in the Dionysus Club (the ’Sco).
Bhatia earned his degree in economics and neuroscience, and he also studied extensively in the Conservatory of Music's jazz division. He performed on- and off-campus with many students, faculty, and alumni when he was a student. Twice he received grants from Oberlin's Creativity and Leadership program to fund his music projects.
After graduating in 2010, Bhatia moved to New York, where his interests gravitated more toward modern jazz. Within two years, he recorded his first album, Yes It Will (Rest Assured), which featured a cast of collaborators in both jazz and classical music, including trumpeter Peter Evans '03, pianist Vijay Iyer, Oberlin faculty jazz percussionist Billy Hart, and flutist Claire Chase ’01.
In 2014, he became a member of Son Lux, a New York trio that moves fluidly between contemporary classical, pop, and electronic music (Eighth Blackbird, the Oberlin-founded contemporary classical music collective, has commissioned work from the group).
According to Bhatia, Breaking English draws inspiration from Jimi Hendrix concert videos, blaring prayer calls from Turkish mosques, East African archaeological sites, the death of Trayvon Martin, and Flying Lotus sound collages.
Tickets for the show are $2 with an Oberlin College ID and $5 for the general public, available through Central Ticket Service and at the door.