Ronobir Lahiri has been bothering and been bothered by Indian music for more than 2 decades. After intense classical training in Calcutta, India as a teenager, under Sri Deepak Choudhuri, the preeminant disciple of Pandit Ravi Shankar, he returned to this country, and in addition to developing a thriving career as an actor, began composing scores for theatre, film, and television. He graduated from Yale University in 1994, with a BA in Theater Studies and Literature.
Several years in New York City included a year long run in the Tony-Award winning Broadway revival of The King & I, as understudy to the King, as well as a Helen Hayes Award for an Original Score composed and performed for Tom Stoppard’s Indian Ink, in Washington D.C. Three summers at the Williamstown Theater Festival included acting work alongside the likes of Olympia Dukakis and Campbell Scott, as well as the completion of several major theatrical scores.
In 2001, he moved to London to join the West End cast of The King & I, and in ’02, ascended the throne, playing the title role of the King of Siam on the UK tour, opposite screen legend Stefanie Powers. He inhabited the role for over 2 years, and revived the production for his fifth go-round in 2005, on an American tour, once again opposite the inimitable Ms. Powers. It was this tour that landed him in Los Angeles, culminating at the Pantages Theater in Hollywood. The Southern California climate was too welcome to overlook after a thorough tenure in London, so he stayed put in L.A.
Soon after coming to Los Angeles in 2005, he recorded and produced his debut album, Broad Strokes, which marked a notable departure from the North Indian Classical Tradition. His second album, on sale on iTunes, CD Baby, and other online retailers, is also self-produced, and titled Joy for Silverlake.
Using elements of raga and tala theory, in Silverlake, he explored the tension between computer generatated music and human emotion. By overlaying traditional Indian ragas onto ambient, house, techno, and club tracks, he sought to create a sound environment both intense yet soothing, joyful yet profound, uplifting yet understated.
More than anything else, he embarked on this experiment with great respect and humility towards the rich and complex Indian musical tradition from which he came.
As a composer, 2008 brought his first assignment from HBO, in the form of a promotional year-end film retrospective, to highlight the blockbuster films the network had shown over the past 12 months, and preview the new films to come in 2008. A tongue-in-cheek Indian kirtan, complete with original Sanskrit lyrics, modernized and tailored to picture, perfectly fit the bill, showing a sense of humor inherent in Ronobir’s work and life.
In 2009, HBO called again, this time for an homage to Nascar, in the style of epic, period Hollywood. Ridley Scott’s Gladiator was the template, Zimmer’s soundtrack the springboard, and the score ultimately transcended border and period to create a marvelous and hypnotic hymn to speed, danger, and fierce competition. In 2010, the piece won the Sports Emmy® – Outstanding Sports Promotional Announcement.
He continued his career as a Music Director in 2009 for the Franco Dragone-produced, “India!,” which was created in Frankfurt, Germany, and subsequently travelled to Hamburg. With his sitar, he led a 14 piece band in the music of A.R. Rahman, Peter Gabriel, Sting, and others.
2010 saw him as resident composer for Hand Crank Films, for which he has produced scores and soundtracks for over 20 television commercials and promotional films.
Since 2011, he has been a composer for the Lalela Music Library, where he has around 25 cues available for licence: http://www.lalela.com/#explorer?s=ronobir
In 2011, he spent the summer at Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts Camp in Steamboat Springs, CO, where he co-composed with Aaron Jones a new musical titled “The Moon,” written and directed by Otis Sallid.
He recently completed film scores for 2 NYFA Master’s Theses, “The Fantastic Clown Club,” and “Looking for Liana,” as well as the score for the independent short “Snapper,” which has been accepted into the Louisville International Film Festival. He also recently scored the feature documentary, “I AM YOU,” for Kevin Mukherjee, and the short “Dawn,” for Leon Le.
2012 saw yet another return to the stage, in his 6th production of The King and I, (third time as King), this time with the whole family. The production played the 7000 seat Wolf Trap in VA, and the 4500 seater Fabulous Fox in Atlanta. The reviews were tremendous:
He is currently at work as composer for “Anatomy of Funk,” a dance-theater piece around the music of James Brown, scheduled to open at the Apollo Theater in October 2013.