Grammy Award Winning Artist Arooj Aftab joins Vijay Iyer and Shahzad Ismaily at Strathmore – April 14

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Alaina Sadick Goss

(301) 581-5190


(NORTH BETHESDA, MD) – This April, Strathmore presents Arooj Aftab, Vijay Iyer, Shahzad Ismaily: Love in Exile on the Music Center stage Friday, April 14, 2023 at 8pm. The evening will include a Pre-Concert Discussion on South Asian Music in Global Context: Navigating Creativity and Cultural Identity exploring the opportunities and challenges South Asian artists face in performing, creating and thriving in the current music landscape. 

Love in Exile cultivates lush soundscapes exploring how we find identity and freedom through music. Each bringing their own individuality and multicultural roots, Aftab, Iyer and Ismaily produce a creative fusion of electronic, instrumental, and vocal music. With Aftab’s haunting Urdu vocals, Iyer on pianos and electronics, and Ismaily on bass and Moog synth, the artists translate joy, pain, meditation and yearning through breathtaking, unified sound that builds as subtle musical interrelationships flourish into moments of deeply felt drama.  

The synergetic energy between the three artists is palpable. Remembering their first show, Aftab remarks, “Vijay and Shahzad were so locked into each other, and it was unclear whether they were doing what I was doing or I was doing what they were doing. We were like a school of fish.” As part of the Strathmore Windows series, this work engages with universal human experiences through art rooted in culture and history. The trio’s album, Love in Exile will be released March 24th and was recorded live in a NYC studio with minimal editing. 


Arooj Aftab is a semi-classical, Hindustani, minimalist composer, songwriter, and singer steadily rising in the world of global music. She was recently awarded the Grammy for Best Global Music Performance for her song “Mohabbat” and is the first ever Pakistani artist to receive a Grammy Award. 

Vijay Iyer’s musical language is grounded in the rhythmic traditions of South Asia and West Africa, the African American creative music movement of the 60s and 70s, and a long lineage of composer-pianists. His honors include a MacArthur Fellowship, a Doris Duke Performing Artist Award, a United States Artist Fellowship, a Grammy nomination, and the Alpert Award in the Arts. He teaches at Harvard University in the Department of Music and the Department of African and African American Studies. Iyer is also an active composer for classical ensembles and soloists, with his works being commissioned and premiered by groups such as Imani Winds, LA Philharmonic, American Composers Orchestra, and countless others. 

Shahzad Ismaily is a multi-instrumentalist and composer. He has recorded and performed with an incredibly diverse assemblage of musicians, including Laurie Anderson and Lou Reed, Tom Waits, and Jolie Holland. Currently based in New York , Ismaily has studied music extensively in Pakistan, India, Turkey, Mexico, Santiago, Japan, Indonesia, Morocco and Iceland. 



6:30pm in Education Room 402. Free with show ticket; registration is strongly recommended. Seats will be available for registrants only until 6:20pm, at which time remaining seats will be released to a standby line. Panelists explore topics such as what it means in practice for South Asian artists to simultaneously push creative boundaries and carry the weight of representation, as well as how to stay honest and respectful of folk traditions when employing modern genres and technologies.  

Panel moderator Shruthi Mukund brings more than 20 years of experience in arts programming, research, special events, and grassroots methods together with an equity lens to inform her work in socially accountable community engagement.  

Musician Priya Darshani takes her roots from Indian Classical music and has collaborated with a wide range of artists from Pearl Jam; Grammy Award winners Roy “Futureman” Wooten; Jeff Coffin, Philip Lassiter, Silk Road Ensemble’s Shane Shanahan and many more. 

Vidya Vox brings together influences of her Indian-American heritage to create music that is refreshingly unique and contemporary, seamlessly fusing together the intricacies of Indian music with elements of electronic and hip-hop for an undeniably catchy sound. 

British-born, New York City-raised producer and multi-instrumentalist of Indian heritage Karsh Kale has spent the last two decades zigzagging the world, headlining major festivals and spinning records at the White House for Barack Obama. 


Strathmore is a multidimensional, creative anchor in the community, where everyone can connect with the arts, and artists can explore their full potential. 

It presents hundreds of performances, visual arts, and education programs, annually, for diverse audiences on its Montgomery County Maryland campus and in the community. 

All of Strathmore’s facilities are Global Biorisk Advisory Council® (GBAC) STAR™ accredited.  

For further information or tickets, call (301) 581-5100 or visit