India Yeshe Gailey is a cellist, composer, and interdisciplinary artist based in Montréal. Originally from Halifax, Nova Scotia, she recently earned her Master of Music degree from McGill’s Schulich School of Music, where she studied with Matt Haimovitz. A versatile performer and avid chamber musician, her artistic life has been especially inspired by contemporary, improvised, and world musics. In December 2017, India released her first solo album, Lucid, a collaboration with three other young Canadian composers, which was nominated for Music Nova Scotia’s “Classical Recording of the Year.” She performs with several creative ensembles, including New Hermitage, the Halifax-based environmental chamber jazz quartet; The Swallowtails, a duo combining Celtic, classical, and bluegrass music; and Bonsai, a cello-percussion project with Ken Shorley. Passionate about connecting music to the social and political climate, she was a founding member of the Vaso String Quartet, an ensemble that formed while working with Philip Glass to create a revised edition of his String Quartet No. 2. Praised for the electric energy of their concerts, Vaso performed under-represented works by women and minorities across Canada, and also collaborated with numerous emerging composers.
India has performed as a classical and experimental musician across Canada, the United States, and Germany in venues such as the Canadian New Music Network forum, Domaine Forget, Halifax Jazz Festival, OBEY Convention, Open Waters Festival, Scotia Festival of music, and Tuckamore Festival. She can also be heard on CBC and CKDU radio stations. She is the recipient of numerous awards and honours, including five Nova Scotia Talent Trust Scholarships, the Yuh Lih and Marion Kuo Award for Instrumental Excellence, the Janis and Felicita Kalejs Award in Music, Clara McClearn Blakeley Music Scholarship, and First Place prizes from the Kiwanis Festival of Music.
Beginning her studies on the fiddle at age seven, India received scholarships to study with respected Cape Breton fiddlers Jerry Holland and Sandy MacIntyre at the Gaelic College of Arts and Crafts. She played several instruments throughout her youth, including alto saxophone, ukulele, guitar, and percussion. The cello became her primary instrument in high school during indie-pop collaborations with the singer-songwriter Taryn Kawaja. India received her Bachelor of Music degree from Acadia University, where she studied with Norman Adams and Christoph Both, was a frequently featured soloist, and graduated with dean’s list distinction. Over the years she also had the opportunity to perform in masterclasses for cellists Emmanuelle Bertrand, Colin Carr, Denise Djokic, Blair Lofgren, Philippe Müller, Thomas Wiebe, Shauna Rolston, and Jeffrey Ziegler. She has also had many chamber music mentors, including members of the Daedalus, Kronos, and Shanghai string quartets, Garth Newel Piano Quartet, Apple Hill Chamber Players, and Gryphon Trio. India plays a Czech cello made by Alexander Havelka in 2016 and a bow by Montréal archetier François Malo.
As a composer, India is inspired by the relationship of visual and sonic shapes, and her compositions explore environmentalism, timbral variation, theatricality, and magical realism. In addition to her musical studies, she has studied visual art at NSCAD University, and as a child studied classical ballet and contemporary dance– these other disciplines significantly informing her work as a composer. Her composition mentors include Derek Charke and Peter Togni. In autumn 2016, she was commissioned by Keep Good (Theatre) Company to compose and perform the score for their production of Nick Payne’s Constellations, an eloquent love story set in a multiverse. More recently, The Acadia Gamelan Ensemble premiered her work, Hujan Badai (“Thunderstorm”). For the 2017/18 season, she was an artist in residence with Ear Camera, an ensemble which premiered her vocal ensemble piece “Dinoflagellates”. India’s multidisciplinary leanings have led to numerous other collaborations with composers, improvisers, and dancers.