About the Board


Kartik Seshadri: Founder, Artistic Director / Advisor to the Board, RAGA : RASA

~ Please click here for bio.







Jo Blackwell – Chair and Co-Founder – RAGA : RASA
brings a 23 year background and experience in education and training. As a senior southeast regional manager for the Princess Trust in the U.K., Jo initiated educational programs for young people, developed teacher-training programs, oversaw contract management as well as elicited effective fund raising. A resourceful, highly qualified and widely experienced trainer, teacher, manager and leader, she possesses proven skills and experience in working with young people that have earned her various accolades and awards including the “Exceptional Skills Award for 2008” from Prince Charles. Jo brings a wide range of interests to arts and culture and has traveled and lived in many parts of the world.


Sarah Hardwick

Sarah Hardwick is the founder and CEO of Zenzi. Her high energy and passion have fueled the company’s growth from its inception in 2002 into an award-winning communications firm. She combines proven strategies with new tactics from cause marketing to crowdsourcing. Under her leadership, Zenzi has successfully increased awareness and inspired business results for clients including Nestle, Chiquita, Hilton, Shea Homes, Keep a Breast Foundation, Torrey Pines Bank, TechCocktail, TEDx and more. Sarah has been quoted in industry publications such as PR Week and awarded Best Communications Campaign, Best Young Entrepreneur and one of the city’s Most Admired CEOs. You can follow her on Twitter@SarahZ or visit


Ashvani Singh

Ashvani Singh from San Diego, California, is a research scientist at a pharmaceutical company, and holds M.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees in the field of Medicinal Chemistry.  He has published several research papers and holds several US patents in the Drug Discovery field.  He was part of the team that recently got FDA approval and successfully launched the first Cystic Fibrosis drug that treats the basic symptoms of the disease.  He was born and brought up in the historical city of Lucknow, a North Indian city known for its Lucknow gharana of Kathak dance and North Indian classical music.  He is an avid lover and listener of most of Indian classical, light Indian classical music as well as Western Rock and Blues music.


Kumaran Krishnasamy

is as an Electrical Engineer, and he holds B.Sc. and M.Sc. degrees in Electrical and Signal Processing fields, respectively. Besides being a disciple of Kartik Seshadri, he has a passion for music, arts and education.


Penelope Custer 

was educated at The Putney School, College Cevenol, Columbia University, Oxford University, LAMDA, The New School and NYU/SCPS. As long-time disciple of Kartik Seshadri, Penelope first discovered the bliss of “Nada Brahma” (Sound is God) at the maestro’s performance at Asia Society in 1997. The event changed her life forever. Traveling across the U.S. and Canada for his concerts, she has had the rare privilege of accompanying him on tanpura and in 2002 began the studying the sitar.  Besides her interest in music, Penelope has also written a book of poetry, written and directed two short films, and has taught writing and art to children and teenagers. She has also studied piano, violin, flute, theory and harmony, sang in the Choral Society at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center. RAGA : RASA is the vehicle through which Penelope hopes to fulfill her promise to Pablo Casals “to dedicate her life to music.”


Sailay Siddiqi

Sailay is a medical doctor and is currently working on a PhD in stem cell research.  She was born in Afghanistan and grew up in South East Asia, Russia and Holland. Sailay has always had a great passion for Indian Classical Music.  She believes Indian Classical Music is the only laminar factor in today’s turbulent world. Sailay has the privilege of being Kartik Seshadri’s disciple and, in her own words, is ‘his biggest fan’. As his disciple, she has had the pleasure of having lectures and dialogues about the role of music in the world and the importance of it in human development. These conversations have been (and are) eye opening and life changing.  Being truly inspired, Sailay has decided to get involved and has chosen Raga Rasa as a tool for bringing cultures and people together through music.


Contact Us:  email:
tel: +1 760 753 2860



Raga Rasa & Cry Press Release

– a collaboration premised on Kartik Seshadri’s guiding philosophy that “Music is one of the most powerful mediums for social empowerment and change”


February 12, 2013 (San Diego, CA)– Raga Rasa, the Kartik Seshadri Center for Indian Classical Music, today announced its collaboration with CRY America on a campaign to raise awareness for children’s rights. The nonprofit organizations will work together on a series of concerts and outreach events beginning on February 12 with the launch of CRY’s “Stay In School- Girl Child Campaign.”


Stay In School – Girl Child Campaign


The “Stay In School – Girl Child Campaign” will be a springboard for Raga Rasa
and CRY America to collectively widen their reach to audiences who may not be
aware of these issues. Planning is underway for events ranging from a benefit
concert at Qualcomm headquarters to a city-wide CRY Walk later in the year.
CRY America believes that when a girl child gets the opportunity to go to school
and remain in school, she sets off a cycle of positive change. Educated girls grow
up to be empowered women, they make better care givers for their own children
and influence the communities they live in.


“The situation of the girl child in India needs urgent attention. We believe the
partnership with Raga Rasa will help create awareness about these issues and
raise valuable funds, which will bring lasting change to the lives of thousands of
underprivileged children in India,” said Monica Kharkar of CRY America.
For Kartik Seshadri, renowned sitarist and founder of Raga Rasa, this goal is
closely aligned with his personal belief in the role of music and education to
empower social change. “Using music as the medium, we can push boundaries,
encourage dialogues and begin to address some of these problems at a
grassroots level.”


About Raga Rasa:


RAGA : RASA is a non-profit 501 (c) (3) organization committed to the tradition of
Indian Classical Music. The organization seeks to foster a deeper understanding
of Indian Classical Music and reach beyond to other traditions of music
throughout the world through performances, workshops, collaborations,
education and outreach projects.


RAGA : RASA – is the brainchild of world renowned Indian classical musician,
composer and educator: Kartik Seshadri.


RAGA : RASA: has a very strong social leaning rooted in the idea of Music as a powerful medium for creating Social Change and Empowerment. To that extent,
the organization’s vision ranges from proactively engaging with children through
outreach and educational projects that have been clearly proven to enhance
children’s overall developmental capabilities to participating with organizations
that are actively engaged in children’s social causes where music can be used a
powerful medium to negotiate social empowerment and change.




About CRY America:
CRY America is a 501c3 non-profit organization driven by its vision of a just world in which all children have equal opportunities to develop to their full potential and realize their dreams. Our work in restoring the rights of underprivileged children ranges from making public schools function better, ensuring health care becomes a reality, helping families sustain livelihoods, addressing the issue of child labor, preventing child marriage and giving girls equal opportunities. For more information about CRY America and the “Stay in School- Girl Child Campaign.”



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Tribute: 2013

Tribute: 2013 will be a year of tribute to musical legend and Kartik Seshadri’s Guru Pandit Ravi Shankar. The homage also extends to the larger legacy of the Maihar Gharana (founded by Aacharya Allauding Khan) and Ustad Ali Akbar Khan. Seshadri’s tribute began with concerts for IOS Festival, Kolkata, Sangeeth Nataka Academy and SAPTAK festivals in Ahmedabad and culminated in the prestigious Doverlane Festival, Kolkata.

Raga Rasa Past/Present

A relatively new organization, in the past three years, Raga Rasa has been fulfilling its mission through exciting concerts, outreach work and intensive musical workshops.


This year Raga Rasa aims to continue and expand its work – please check here regularly for Concert updates, Outreach and Intensive Master Classes.

A selection of events and education programs already hosted by Raga Rasa: 
Legend of the Sarode – Sufi Aashish Khan


Khayal: Indrani Mukherjee
Benefit Concert for Ada Harris Elementary School Band Program
In partnership with IFAASD vocal khayal recital by Parthasarathy Desikan


Dhrupad vocal music: Aliya Rashid and Amita Sinha Mahopatra


Outreach – Fallbrook elementary school district
Elementary School workshops with Grade 3,4,5,6, kids
Ada Harris Elementary School – band program students’ workshop


Music Master-classes with Kartik Seshadri – Spring and Summer 3 day intensives


We welcome ideas for outreach projects please do contact us to discuss further.


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