The Climate Message: Saskia Rao-de Hass

Saskia Rao-de Haas — Hindustani ‘cello
New Delhi, India

Saskia Rao – de Haas is a brilliant cellist from the Netherlands. She is a pioneer in the world of music for introducing her Indian cello to North Indian classical music. Critics and audiences alike have praised her for her artistic depth and technical virtuosity. Speaking about Saskia, Flute maestro Hariprasad Chaurasia recently said in a TV interview: “She has been taught by God and everyone should listen to her music”.

Saskia started to learn the cello at the age of eight by the late cello virtuoso Tibor de Machula. She studied cello at the conservatory of Rotterdam specializing in Indian classical music under Koustav Ray and Pt Hariprasad Chaurasia, while finishing her Master’s in Ethnomusicology from the University of Amsterdam. During her subsequent visits to India she also studied under eminent artistes such as Dr Sumati Mutatkar, Pt DK Datar, Pt Deepak Chowdhury and Shubhendra Rao. With no precedent to follow, Saskia has worked with singular dedication to adapt the cello to Indian classical music.

Saskia modified her cello to suit the requirements of Indian music, based on a comparative study of Indian string instruments and western baroque instruments. Her Indian cello is smaller in size than its western counterpart and has 1 additional playing string and 10 sympathetic strings to give the cello a new dimension. Her unique playing style enables her to bring out the subtleties and the embellishments characteristic of north Indian classical music. She has invented new techniques for the cello that allow her to nurture its inherent closeness to the human voice and explore unrestrained all its possibilities.


If you’re a performer in any idiom, please consider joining the Climate Message Video Festival, an online initiative bringing together musicians from all over the world to increase awareness of climate change.

Here’s how to do it:

1. Turn on video recording on your cellphone or webcam.

2. Play or sing 20-30 seconds of music – anything you like.

3. Speak to the camera, in any language you like. Say your name, your location, and some sentence like, “Climate change is a danger to us all — time to take action.”

4. Play or sing another 20-30 seconds of music.

5. Turn off video.

6. Email file to

7. there is no 7. You’re done.

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