Interview with the Arab Times, Kuwait
Duet Concert in Kuwait with Yogesh Samsi on tabla and Rupak Kulkarni (Flute) on 7th February, 2013 When did you take up the violin ? When I was two and a half years old. Since when is violin an Indian classical instrument? From the time it came to India as the present day violin in the 17th century with the Britishers. It was first in Karnatic classical music and then for the past two hundred years it has been in Hindustani classical music too. how different is your style from your guru – your aunt and your contemporaries? My bowing and fingering is my USP. Many many western contemporary classical violinists consider me to have one of the best technique in the world. The way it works is that I can play anything that a vocalist can do such a degree of perfection that it sounds exactly similar to the voice. Not only that I can also do more by bringing out the genius of the instrument. Everybody tries to imitate the voice but I am the voice through my instrument in a country where both schools of music is popularly perceived as watertight despite shared commonalities, how easy or difficult is to be true to both? If you know and are performing both the systems of music it is very difficult to not to mix both while playing but since I play only one system I think I am ok. Unlike other members of your family, you were entrusted with practicing north Indian music ? did you accept this willingly? Yes, I did as I loved what I was doing very much and I still love what I do. You had taken up the violin at a young age and yet you trained under the legendary Pandit Jasraj, a vocalist ? being a layperson I found this intriguing I trained under pandit jasraj because firstly his music was beautiful and in my mind i was convinced that this would perfectly suit my instrument and what i wanted to achieve through my violin and music. Secondly,I did not want to be a carbon copy of my aunt. Why would anyone want to listen to an imitation?
This is what Ustad Zakir Hussain impressed on me at a ver y young age. I took that up very seriously and found my calling in Pandit Jasraj Ji’s music. He showed me a vision of how beautiful music can be. He is the reason my violin is called the Singing Violin today. you belong to an illustrious family ? did it ever seem an overwhelming burden? I belong to an illustrious family but I never took my family’s name in my growing years. So many still do not know that I hail from this family and that worked well for me. There was no pressure. You performed with the London Philharmonic as a soloist ? what was the experience like? The challenge lay in adapting your improvised music to blend with what they were playing from the written sheets of music. It was fun and challenging at the same time. I am really thankful to the almighty for such wonderful opportunities which have helped me grow as a musician today. What led you to collaborate with Raga Afrika? Nobody had ever worked with the genre of Afro- Jazz and I was one of the first classical musicians to head to SA after it opened up to the world since apartheid and it was a wonderful experience to collaborate with them. You have also collaborated with jazz artists- you have collaborated with many different artists from different genres ? how difficult is this while being true to Hindustani classical? It is not at all difficult because the foundation of our music and the training we receive makes us so strong as musicians, that we can translate everything the other musicians do into raga scales and rhythmic cycles and improvise from there. I can very proudly say that Indian classical musicians can work with any genre in the world as our music is the best in the world. How differently is the violin played in western classical music and Indian classical music? And how differently is violin played in Carnatic music and Hindustani classical music?
The posture, tuning, fingering, bowing -everything is different from the West. Between Hindustani and Carnatic, I would say the only difference lies in the ornamentations, the presentation and the structure and the form. Your violin is rightly called the ?singing violin? ? how did you cultivate this style? I did that by following my Guruji Pandit Jasraj Ji’s music faithfully and working on a bowing and fingering style which will make the violin another voice.. You have said in some previous interviews that you want to work with children ? have you done any work in this regard? I am infact right now touring Punjab now performing for school children to give them an insight into our music and culture. I also am planning to work with the under privileged and disabled children very very soon… Have you performed in Kuwait earlier?
What have you planned for your listeners in Kuwait? This is my first time in Kuwait. Right now I have not thought of it but God willing, we will create beautiful music which will linger on in your hearts and minds even after we leave…