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David Pontbriand

Sitar Player

I began my journey with the sitar in 1973. My story is an exception to the rule, in that I am an entirely self-taught American sitarist. My Music of Sitar is driven by an intuitive and emotive approach that is deeply personal, and yet displays elements of classical form and style.

My original, and primarily spontaneous, compositions for sitar are freely interpretive, yet rooted in the classical ragas of north India. While I have great respect for the Indian classical traditions, I do not necessarily adhere to any of them. I allow free reign to my own musical invention.

As a synthesis of eastern and western influences, my compositions unfold in a series of contrasting episodes; musical “adventures” exploring themes of joy, sadness, awe, and mystery “…from the dust of the earth…to the blue of the sky.” 


In addition to numerous solo and festival appearances throughout New England, I have performed in duos, trios, and ensembles, including Sitar Rhythmica, Om Rasa, Raga Trio, Sitar Rhythmia, and RagaFission, and have appeared as an accompanist with Anoushka Shankar. I have toured New England with The Longfellow Chorus under director Charles Kaufmann, and with Boston Musica Viva under the direction of Richard Pittman, along with tabla master Samir Chatterjee, in performances of contemporary composer Shirish Korde’s multi-media multi-cultural production of “Chitra.”

Some of my Performance credits include the TSAI Performance Center at Boston University, Grant Hall at Brown University, Fenwick Theater at Holy Cross, The Fleming Museum at University of Vermont, University of New Hampshire, University of Southern Maine, and Bates College Olin Arts Center.

Other activities have included tutoring of private students, presentation of educational lecture-demos for both public and private institutions, and contributions to musical reviews, playlists, dance collaborations, and recording sessions. I have also served on the adjunct music faculty of Bates College. My CD recordings include Raga Fission, Sitar Dreams, Inner Spaces and Rosean.


Although ancient in origin, the modern form of the twenty-stringed sitar traces its evolution from the early 19th century. I have recently begun performing on a new carbon fiber sitar, crafted for me by luthier Harry Shaffer, in North Carolina. Shaffer is remembered as an innovator, and a pioneer in the creation of some unique 21st century iterations of the sitar.


I am honored to once again bring my Music of Sitar to the Maine Fungi Fest.

David Pontbriand
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