Ashu has established an extraordinary ability to communicate with audiences around the world through his charismatic and emotive performance style, and is one of today’s most engaging and pioneering musicians. While his virtuosity continues to thrill listeners, his artistry reaches far beyond this demonstrating a unique personality and musical voice. He has repeatedly defied conventions by winning major international awards traditionally won by pianists and violinists. Critics have described him as “just as much fun to watch as to listen to” (Chicago Tribune) and “ready to cultivate the masses” (Washington Post). Ashu has developed a trailblazing career as the first and only full-time concert saxophone soloist.
Ashu was born and raised in California and began playing the saxophone at age 10. After just a few years, he began entering competitions and found himself receiving a wide range of opportunities, including his recital debut, which took place at Carnegie Hall. Since then, solo performances have taken him throughout the world.
“Just as much fun to watch as to listen to“
– Chicago Tribune
Ashu is internationally regarded for his solo concerts at venues including New York’s Carnegie Hall, Ravinia Festival, Zurich’s Tonhalle, NY Central Park, Vienna’s Konzerthaus, Cape Town City Hall, St. Petersburg’s Hermitage, Kravis Center, Strathmore, and more. Regularly touring as soloist with orchestras around the world, he has recently been invited to perform concertos with major orchestras in Vienna, New York City, Chicago, St. Petersburg, Lisbon, Montreal, Bremen, Edmonton, Cape Town, Prague, and more. Over the past two seasons, Ashu’s concerto appearances included major halls throughout Great Britain, Germany, Switzerland, Russia, Finland, New Zealand, Singapore, France, Kyrgyzstan, South Africa, Poland, Austria, Portugal, Norway, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Estonia, Azerbaijan, Canada, and the USA.
Recently, Ashu was selected as the winner of the prestigious “Audience Award” at the renowned International Musical Olympus Festival in St. Petersburg, Russia, competing against the First Prize winners of the world’s foremost violin, piano and voice competitions. The festival’s honorary committee included Daniel Barenboim, Valery Gergiev, Yo-Yo Ma, Yuri Temirkanov, and Mariss Jansons. As a result, Ashu has been invited to perform concertos and recitals next year in a number of the most revered concerts halls worldwide.
“Ready to cultivate the masses…“
– Washington Post
While most people have never heard the saxophone in concert music, Ashu has begun to change this. He says, “It’s really an incredible instrument. It can be played with such emotional intensity and sing like a voice. It’s capable of tremendous beauty.” With the unique ability to captivate general as well as classical audiences, Ashu has shown that the concert saxophone can reach beyond stylistic categorization and to a large diversity of people. He has also shown it can attract younger and new listeners into the concert hall being a relatively fresh instrument to classical audiences.
Ashu’s recent recital engagements in the USA include such prestigious series as the Ravinia Festival, Strathmore, Kravis Center, La Jolla Music Society, Detroit Symphony Center, Dumbarton Oaks, NY Rockefeller Series, Green Music Center, Performance Santa Fe, and more.
Ashu has also won First Prizes at competitions including the International Heida Hermanns Competition, International Salon De Virtuosi Career Grant, International Houston Symphony, International Kingsville Wind Instrumentalist, American Opera Society, National Alliance for Excellence, National Lennox/RSO, National George S. Howard, National MOSC, National Federation of Music Clubs, National Houston Symphony Flores-Smith, and many more.
With a warm and engaging personality and a unique story, Ashu has been featured on NBC, CBS, NPR, CBC and numerous other live TV and radio broadcasts worldwide. He also regularly performs his own arrangements in his concerts.
Ashu received his Bachelor and Master of Music degrees from Northwestern University under the guidance of renowned saxophone teacher Frederick Hemke, and he is currently based in the Chicago area.