Striking the right chord

Striking the right chord
Santoor , an traditional Indian instrument.

Fitting into his illustrious father's shoes is no easy task. After all, the man is looked up to as a living legend among santoor players.

But Rahul Sharma has managed this so well that his father Pandit Shivkumar Sharma has said: "I believe Rahul has a gift from God."

Sharma's musical virtuosity and mastery of the santoor, a 100-stringed ancient Kashmiri folk instrument, has been widely acknowledged. He started learning it from his father, whose name is synonymous with the santoor today.

"The santoor was little known until my father introduced classical music on it and gave it its current stature. My father brought it out from the valleys of Kashmir to the world," says Sharma.

His own journey with the santoor has been equally spectacular. He has expanded the possibilities of this instrument while keeping his foot firmly planted in the soil of the Hindustani classical tradition.

His first taste of success was in September 2000 with Music of the Himalayas, a live performance in Turin which featured him, percussionist Pandit Bhawani Shankar and tabla player Ustad Shafat Ahmed Khan.

There was no looking back after that and he has performed at various music festivals in North America and Europe, including WOMAD, and has also collaborated with international musicians like Richard Clayderman and Kersi Lord.

But Sharma's first love remains pure Indian classical music. He says: "I began learning under my father at the age of 12. Initially I was also interested in composing my own tunes and that skill was complimented by the intricacies of classical music.

"Today after doing more than 60 albums, half of which are fusion or collaborations and the other half classical, I still believe that classical music has immense depth and elevates listeners to a spiritual level. The fact that I collaborated with several Grammy-winning musicians like Kenny G, Richard Clayderman, Deep Forest and others, is thanks to my classical training."

Sharma looks forward to his classical concert in Singapore later this month at the annual SIFAS Festival of Music and Dance 2014. "It has been 17 years of performing all over the globe and each concert, tour or collaboration is an eye-opener and a learning experience.

"I enjoyed performing at the Esplanade with Richard Clayderman on my last visit there. Singapore is a vibrant city with a lot of positive energy and Singapore audiences are great. At my upcoming concert, they can look forward to beautiful evening ragas and different shades of light classical and folk music."

Naadagatha - Sound of Harmony: A Santoor Recital by Rahul Sharma accompanied by Yogesh Samsi is on March 30, 7.30pm at the Esplanade Concert Hall. Tickets, priced at $24 and $40 with limited tickets at $80, are available from SISTIC.

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