John Stephens is a sitar player who performs and teaches North Indian classical music. He has given many North Indian classical performances for various occasions including concert programs, competitions, lecture/demonstrations, private concerts, holiday programs and film scores. These include performances at Cornell University, Ithaca College, Pasadena City College, the 24th Annual Indian Music and Dance Competition at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, the California Institute of the Arts, the Sangati Center, private recitals in Boston, Ithaca, Baltimore, Seattle, and Varanasi, India, and appearances as tanpura accompanist for Ustad Aashish Khan, Pandit Swapan Chaudhuri, and Sri Alam Khan at the annual Music Circle concerts, the Ojai Music Festival and the University of California, Santa Barbara.
John earned his MFA at CalArts, majoring in sitar performance under the guidance of two legendary musicians, his guru, sarod maestro Ustad Aashish Khan, and Pandit Swapan Chaudhuri, from whom he learned the art of tabla accompaniment. John lived for some time in India where he was initially trained by Pandit Amar Nath Mishra, a Banarasi sitar player with a particularly sweet and melodious style.
Before taking up the sitar, John earned his undergraduate degree in Jazz Composition as a guitarist at Berklee College of Music, where he composed for and performed with jazz and rock ensembles of all sizes. John has also studied, Kathak dance, vocal music, the Hindi and Sanskrit languages, and other styles of music such as Balinese and Javanese Gamelan.
He currently resides in Los Angeles, CA where he is teaching and performing. He is a member of ASCAP and a teacher of North Indian classical music at the California State Summer School for the Arts.