Millennium Post

‘Audience my driving force’

Shiv Kumar Sharma needs no introduction. The master santoor player, who transformed the traditional 100 stringed santoor, will soon be in the Capital to perform at the Delhi Classical Music Festival. Millennium Post caught up with him for a chat. Here are excerpts:

What is music for you?

For me, music is like meditation. It gives me a certain kind of spiritual bliss when I play on the stage in front of the audience. I aim to share that spiritual bliss, which I feel with my listeners and not just to entertain them. I call it music beyond entertainment.

What will you be performing at the Delhi Classical Music Festival?

Indian classical music is not pre-planned. So we don’t do any rehearsals before going on stage. Indian classical  music is all improvised. A musician decides what to perform  only before going on the stage and that is precisely the beauty of it.

Any fond memories of Delhi’s classical music scenario?

I have been performing in Delhi for more than four decades now. The old landmark festivals are still  organised. Another major event in Delhi used to be the music conferences.

In those times, we used to have all night classical music programmes. Although this scenario has somewhat changed today as all night programmes are no more done for reasons like court orders, but we have got other festivals. Music in the Park, for example, draws a very large audience.

It makes a lot of difference if the organiser is well versed about music and musicians. It gives the musicians who come to perform a level of comfort.

These days Spicmacay, also organises draws a lot of  young generation audience to enjoy our music. This is a positive sign which wasn’t there 40 years ago. There were hardly any young faces among the audience but now this has changed.

Do you think Indian classical music is losing context now?

I don’t agree. The reality is more programmes are happening, younger people are getting involved with music. Brilliant young second line musicians [the present generation]are there to carry on thistradition.

Generally people ask this question as they make a mistake in comparing Indian classical music with  so-called Bollywood music. These are two different genres of music and should not be compared.

But the electronic media nowadays hardly has  programmes about Indian classical music. Therefore, people who get information from watching television think classical music is not happening.

Nowhere in the world is classical music ever compared with pop music, but in our country we are all the time comparing these two different genres.

I don’t know why people would actually assume that Indian classical music is not relevant today.

What has your inspiration been?

My inspiration and driving force has been my listeners and my urge to keep doing something different. I learn from each and every concert, getting new ideas and attempting them on the stage. This learning process never ends.

What do you think of the future of santoor in India?

Santoor is one of the most popular Indian classical instruments not only in India but all around the world. There are four generations of people who have been exposed to my Santoor music and those like Rahul Sharma have given a new dimension to this instrument by creating different genre of santoor music in international collaborations with musicians like Richard Clayderman and Kenny G.

As a result those people who are not exposed to Indian classical music through these collaborations have become followers of this instrument. That means the future of not only santoor but Indian classical music is creating waves.

You have given music in Bollywood movies too. What do you think of the music now?

I have worked with Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia 10 years ago as music director of mainstream Hindi cinema which is now called Bollywood. It was a wonderful experience because we worked with the great director Yash Chopra and did seven films with him. The scenario now has changed and I don’t get time to go to the theatre to watch a film and cannot remember any recent melody which stayed because of its poetry.

Occassionally we come across some good songs and rarely with some good poetry. Maybe the filmmakers are not inclined towards music like Chopra was.


At: Kamani Auditorium, Mandi House
When: 1 to 5 October
Timings: 7pm onwards
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