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Biography

Receipt of the 2022 New York Foundation for the Arts Award and hailed by The Jazz Journal for his "heart-wrenching cello" and by New York Daily Music for his "darkly slithery, microtonally bristling solos" cellist Jake Charkey enjoys an eclectic career bouncing between various realms of music; MTV specials with Armaan Malik and sold-out shows at the Microsoft Theater with Arijit Singh, stints at the Carnegie Hall with Grammy-awarded composer Eric Whitacre, arranging strings for several TV series, and films including Emmy-nominated Netflix' Sacred Games', recording with Zakir Hussain and Hariharan, and composing music for celebrated choreographer Parul Shah. In the words of composer Clinton Cerejo, "Jake redefines the sound of cello".

 

Since returning from India to the USA in 2016, Jake has been an advocate for new music for solo cello, which he programs in recitals alongside Hindustani music. His performances draw parallels and connections between two vital musical languages, advancing a concept of contemporary music that is rooted in tradition but is centered in a liminal space between two musics. 

 

Jake has performed as a soloist at the Kennedy Center, Carnegie Hall, Eastman School of Music, and Lincoln Center and as an ensemble member at the National Sawdust, The Rubin Museum, Dumbarton Oaks, Hopkins Center for the Arts, Hancher Auditorium, The Stone, Pioneer Works, and The National Center for the Performing Arts in Mumbai. He is actively commissioning new works for Indian cello, including music by Akshaya Tucker and Michael Harrison to be premiered later this year and an album on In a Circle Records to be released next fall.

 

He has toured Europe, the Middle East, North and South America, and Asia. He collaborates with today's forward-thinking musicians, including Layale Chaker and Sarafand, Adam Rudolph's GO Organic Orchestra, and the Brooklyn Raga Massive, among many others.

 

As a passionate educator on a mission to establish the cello as an Indian instrument, Jake has taught on the music faculty at Marlboro College, given workshops on Indian cello playing at the New Directions Cello Festival, University of Massachusetts, Berklee College of Music, and presented the Indian cello as a TEDx speaker and The Violoncello Society of New York.

 

Jake is a pioneer and innovator of techniques he has developed for rendering Hindustani music and an exponent of contemporary music, helping composers understand how to use this expanded cello vocabulary in their music. 

 

Jake holds a B.Mus from Shepherd School of Music at Rice University in cello performance, where he studied under Norman Fischer. He received his MFA from California Institute for the Arts in North Indian Classical music, where he learned from Aashish Khan, Swapan Chaudhury, and Jagan Ramamurthy while studying improvisation techniques with Charlie Haden, Vinny Golia, and Wadada Leo Smith.

 

As a recipient of the Shastri Indo-Canadian Arts Fellowship in 2010, he received advanced training in Mumbai in Hindustani music under the legendary violin virtuoso Dr. N. Rajam

 

In India, as the most in-demand touring and studio cellist, his fluency in two grand music traditions led him to record and perform with many of the most celebrated musicians in the country, such as Zakir Hussain, Fazal Qureshi, Hariharan, Rakesh ChaurasiaYesudas, Kailash Kher, Master Saleem, Arijit Singh, Armaan Malik, Clinton Cerejo, Jeet Gangully, Stephen Devassy, among others.  

 

His unique sound can be heard on the title theme song of Netflix Sacred Games, season 2 of MTV's Coke Studio, multiple episodes of MTV Unplugged, and in more than 100 Bollywood songs and soundtracks. 

 

Charkey’s radio appearances include performances on WQXR’s Meet the Composer podcast and WYNC’s New Sounds Live. His recorded work can be found on Sony Music, T-Series, Zee Music Company, Times Music, Wah Wah Music, Meta Records, White Whale Records, and Mantralogy.