India Yeshe Gailey is a cellist, composer, and interdisciplinary artist often located in Montréal. Originally from Halifax, Nova Scotia, she is currently pursuing her master’s degree in cello performance at McGill University, studying under Matt Haimovitz. A versatile performer, her musical life has been especially inspired by contemporary, improvised, and world musics. She is involved with several projects and creative ensembles, including New Hermitage, the Halifax-based environmental chamber jazz quartet; Vaso String Quartet, an ensemble formed under the mentorship of Philip Glass that is dedicated to performing contemporary music and the work of underrepresented composers; Bonsai, a cello-percussion duo with Ken Shorley; and Ear Camera, an avant-garde composer collective in Montréal. India recently released her first solo album, Lucid, a collaboration with three other young Canadian composers, which is nominated for Music Nova Scotia’s “Classical Recording of the Year.”
India began her studies on the violin at age seven, focusing on Cape Breton fiddle and Western classical styles. She played several instruments throughout her youth, including saxophone, ukulele, guitar, and percussion. The cello became her primary instrument in high school during indie-pop collaborations with the singer-songwriter Taryn Kawaja. As a young artist, she has performed across Canada in venues such as the Domaine Forget music academy, Halifax Jazz Festival, Scotia Festival of music, and Tuckamore Festival. She has also been heard on CBC and CKDU radio stations. India is the recipient of numerous awards and honours, including four Nova Scotia Talent Trust Scholarships, the Yuh Lih and Marion Kuo Award, the Janis and Felicita Kalejs Memorial Award in Music, Clara McClearn Blakeley Music Scholarship, and First Place awards from the Kiwanis Festival of Music. For her Bachelor of Music, India attended Acadia University, where she studied with Norman Adams and Christoph Both, performed as a soloist with the Acadia Gamelan Ensemble, and graduated with dean’s list distinction. Other cellistic mentors include Emmanuelle Bertrand, Vernon Regehr, Thomas Wiebe, and Jeffrey Ziegler.
India has also studied visual art at NSCAD University, which has significantly informed her work as a composer. Her composition mentors include Derek Charke and Peter Togni. Inspired by the relationship of visual and sonic shapes, India’s compositions explore environmentalism, timbral variation, theatricality, and magical realism. In autumn 2016, she was commissioned by Keep Good (Theatre) Company to compose and perform the score for a production of Nick Payne’s Constellations, an eloquent love story set in a multiverse. More recently, The Acadia Gamelan Ensemble premiered a new work of hers, Hujan Badai (thunderstorm). Her multidisciplinary leanings have also led to collaborations with numerous composers, improvisers, and contemporary dancers.