Acclaimed a “musical ambassador” and “pride of India” by The Times of India, Indian-American percussionist and educator Rohan Krishnamurthy imagines new musical intersections to bridge diverse cultures and communities. Rohan’s cross-genre artistry draws from his formal study of south Indian classical Carnatic music, at once propagating the ancient tradition and expanding it across global genres.
Having received initial training on the mridangam with Damodaran Srinivasan in his hometown of Kalamazoo, Michigan, he continued advanced training from legendary maestro Guruvayur Dorai in Chennai, India for over a decade. Rohan’s prolific artistry also explores the intersections of Indian percussion and contemporary jazz and funk drum set. He studied drum set with Alan Hall at the California Jazz Conservatory. His new hybrid kit bridges drum set and Indian percussion, and stick and hand drumming more broadly.
Rohan has performed internationally since the age of nine as a distinguished soloist and collaborator in diverse music and dance ensembles. Rohan has had the honor of sharing the stage with leading artists of Indian classical music, including M. Balamuralikrishna, T.N. Krishnan, N. Ramani, Chitravina N. Ravikiran, T. M. Krishna, and Ranjani and Gayatri. He has spearheaded numerous cross-genre collaborations with orchestras, jazz ensembles, and global musicians. He premiered Rohan, a concerto for mridangam and percussion ensemble written for him by Payton Macdonald, at The Juilliard School in New York City and San Francisco Conservatory of Music. Since 2017, he has toured “Written in Water” with the Ragamala Dance Company and jazz trumpeter/Iraqi vocalist and santur artist Amir ElSaffar, including performances at the Kennedy Center, Harris Theater, and NYU Abu Dhabi.
His latest work includes The Alaya Project, an Indo-jazz-funk experiment with world jazz luminaries Prasant Radhakrishnan (saxophone) and Colin Hogan (keyboard/accordion). Built over two decades of friendship, dialogue, and musical immersion across genres and continents, The Alaya Project features driving hybrid kit grooves, soulful Ragas and melodies, and a jazz-infused harmonic bedrock embodying the permanence of a changing soundscape.
A celebrated educator, Rohan received a Ph.D. in musicology from the Eastman School of Music as a Provost’s Fellow. He has presented rhythm institutes, clinics, workshops, master classes, and academic courses at renowned institutions, including Eastman, Harvard, Berklee College of Music, A.R. Rehman’s K.M. Conservatory of Music (India), National Institute of Design (India), Munich Conservatory (Germany), Kyoto University, Society for Ethnomusicology, and Percussive Arts Society International Convention. He directs the award-winning RohanRhythm Percussion Studio, which has attracted dozens of students of all ages from around the globe.
Rohan is the recipient of prestigious international awards and grants from the San Francisco Arts Commission and Alliance for California Traditional Arts (ACTA). Rohan recently received grants from ACTA and the Ali Akbar College of Music to undertake a cross-genre endeavor with tabla maestro Pandit Swapan Chaudhuri to study extended techniques on tabla, and adapt Carnatic and Hindustani rhythmic repertoire across mridangam and tabla. An innovator, Rohan designed and patented a new drumhead tuning system that is now available worldwide.