Rafiq Bhatia ’10

photo of Rafiq Bhatia Major: Economics, Neuroscience

New Music; New Audiences (Fall 2009-10)

"A contemporary mind with the true potential of the future, Rafiq Bhatia is definitely an artist to look forward to hearing." —Billy Hart, legendary jazz drummer

RAFIQ BHATIA (pronounced rah-FEEK BAH-tia) is a composer, guitarist, bandleader, and arts entrepreneur. A first-generation American born to immigrants of East-African Indian descent, Bhatia refracts the music of his transmigratory heritage into a singular sonic language for creative improvisation. His ensemble, The Rafiq Bhatia Collective, has toured extensively across the eastern and midwestern United States, and was recently featured as a Critic’s Pick by The Boston Globe. As a composer, Bhatia was selected to attend the first annual Jazz Composers Orchestra Institute, sponsored by the American Composers Orchestra and Columbia University’s Center for Jazz Studies. Bhatia’s debut album—featuring The Rafiq Bhatia Collective alongside legendary drummer Billy Hart, groundbreaking pianist and composer Vijay Iyer, and International Contemporary Ensemble members Claire Chase and Peter Evans—will be recorded this summer with support from a Creativity Fund grant from the Oberlin Creativity & Leadership Project.

An entrepreneur dedicated to reinvigorating interest in jazz among young Americans, Bhatia is currently working to establish an organization that allows young ensembles to develop their music and audiences in tandem through performance and outreach efforts in underserved communities. In January of 2010, he conducted a market study supported by an award from the Oberlin Creativity & Leadership Project’s Conservatory Grants Supporting Imagination and Excellence (CIGSIE), performing and conducting workshops in schools, performance spaces, and non-traditional venues in Boston, New York, and North Carolina.

Bhatia is currently completing an interdisciplinary honors degree in economics and cognitive neuroscience at Oberlin College. He is also associated with the renowned Oberlin Conservatory, where his concept quickly caught the attention of renowned jazz drummer Billy Hart, who decided to include Bhatia in his new project, The Billy Hart Laboratory. Since 2006, Bhatia has been an artist-in-residence at The Feve, an Oberlin mainstay, where his trio has attracted a loyal fan-base and critical acclaim for their regular performances. Additionally, Bhatia co-leads the New York-based ensemble Chrysalis, is a member of The Nina Moffitt Quintet, and has performed in ensembles led by percussionist Jamey Haddad and drummer Paul Samuels.