India Yeshe Gailey is a cellist, composer, and interdisciplinary artist based in Montréal and Nova Scotia. Originally from Halifax, she is currently pursuing her master’s degree in cello performance at McGill University’s Schulich School of Music under the tutelage of Matt Haimovitz. A versatile performer and avid chamber musician, her artistic life has been especially inspired by contemporary, improvised, and world musics. She performs with several creative ensembles, including 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; New Hermitage, the Halifax-based environmental chamber jazz quartet; and Bonsai, a cello-percussion duo with Ken Shorley. 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.”
India began her studies on the violin at age seven, and then 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. For her Bachelor of Music, India attended Acadia University, where she studied with Norman Adams and Christoph Both, was a frequently featured soloist, and graduated with dean’s list distinction. She has also had the opportunity to perform in masterclasses for renowned cellists Emmanuelle Bertrand, Blair Lofgren, Thomas Wiebe, Philippe Müller, Colin Carr, Shauna Rolston, and Jeffrey Ziegler.
India has performed as a classical and experimental musician across Canada, the United States, and Germany in venues such as Domaine Forget, Halifax Jazz Festival, OBEY Convention, 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 Memorial Award in Music, Clara McClearn Blakeley Music Scholarship, and First Place awards from the Kiwanis Festival of Music. India plays a Czech cello made by Alexander Havelka in 2016 and a bow by François Malo.
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 led to numerous collaborations with composers, improvisers, and contemporary dancers.