New Delhi: A distinguished gathering that included President Pranab Mukherjee, Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley, Union Minister for New and Renewable Energy Farooq Abdullah, diplomats and people from various other walks of life, were treated to an evening of soulful and mesmerizing Indian classical music at the Rashtrapati Bhavan Auditorium here on Saturday evening.
The musical treat was provided by noted Santoor exponent Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma.
The little over an hour recital was presented under the banner of Indra Dhanush.
Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma, 75, performed the traditional Raag Des that was accompanied by three other related compositions, and a folk tune of Jammu in a lighter vein from which he said Raag Parhari has evolved.
The Raag Des is a Hindustani classical raaga of the Audav-sampurna nature, i.e., in its Arohana (Ascent) only five notes are used, whereas the Avarohana (descent) uses all seven notes. All other swaras are shuddha.
The Arohana includes the following: Sa Re, Ma Pa Ni, Sa, while the Avarohana includes Sa ni Dha, Pa Dha Ma Ga Re, Pa Ma Ga, Re Ga Ni Sa.
The Pakad in the Raag includes Re, Ma Pa Ni, Sa Re ni Dha Pa,ma Ga Re.
The audience of a little over 100 people repeatedly applauded throughout the performance.
Speaking on the occasion, Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma said he was extremely honoured to have been invited by the President to perform in the Rashtrapati Bhavan complex. He said this would go a long way in promoting Indian classical music in its various genres.
At the end of his performance, Pandit Sharma said that from his various interactions with people and the audience in India and abroad, a majority of them had told him that they did not understand or comprehend Indian classical music and its varied nuances.
He said Indian classical music need not be understood as much as it should be felt in the mind and the heart. There was no need to go to school to learn or understand music. It needed to be felt by the soul.
He further described music as a great de-stresser, especially in these hectic and tense modern times, as it provides relief and transports one from the mundane to an internalized form of spirituality.
He urged one and all to enjoy this rare and traditional medium and enrich themselves culturally and mentally.
To say that Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma has created history in the world of music would be an understatement. He has single handedly brought forth Santoor, an obscure, almost unknown instrument, to the level of being "indispensable" on the concert platform!
Santoor, which was used in Sufi music in the valley of Kashmir, owes its classical status to Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma.
In the early decades of the twentieth century, Santoor or Shata-Tantri Veena as it was called in the ancient times, was used as an accompaniment to a specific type of singing called Sufiana Mausiqi.
When Pandit Uma Dutt Sharma, a renowned vocalist from Jammu, and a disciple of Pt. Bade Ramdasji of Benaras spotted it, he was convinced of the potentialities of the instrument. After extensive research on the instrument he bestowed the responsibility of establishing it on the concert platform on his only son Shiv Kumar. The rest, as they say, is history.
Since first gaining recognition with a national concert in Mumbai in 1955, Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma, has through in-depth research, made some important modifications on this hundred-stringed instrument.
For instance, he has introduced a new chromatic arrangement of notes and increased the range to cover full three octaves. He has also created a new technique of playing with which he could sustain notes and maintain sound continuity.
Today, the Santoor is at par with any classical instrument, well established not just all over India, but across the globe.
With his creative genius, Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma has created a new genre of instrumental music.
Through his performance career of over a half century, he has created millions of new listeners and ardent fans of Indian classical music.
His performances are such a brilliant combination of rich knowledge, perfect skill and abundant spontaneous creativity, that all the sections of listeners feel enriched. Little surprise that his concerts are awaited by connoisseurs, music students, musicians and lay listeners alike.
He believes in the immortality of this great heritage of Indian classical music and wishes to leave no stone unturned to make it so. With this aim in mind, he has been imparting his knowledge to the next generation of musicians.
So deep is his conviction that despite no institutional or government support, he has been teaching in the Guru Shishya tradition, without charging a fee from his students, who come to him from all the corners of India as well as different parts of the world like Japan, Germany, Australia and America.
Some of his most popular and innovative experimental albums include Call of the Valley, Feelings, Mountains, etc.
The Santoor has been an indispensable part of Indian film music for nearly four decades. His compositions for blockbusters like Silsila, Lamhe, Chandni, Darr, etc. are all time favourites across the country.
Music, he believes, is food for the soul. Naturally, his music is meditative and soothing at the same time. His immense faith in the ancient wisdom of Vedanta has resulted in creation of music for Shlokas from the Upanishads and a new raag called Antardhwani.
He is a recipient of the Honorary Citizen for the City of Baltimore, USA (1985), Sangeet Natak Academy Award (1986), Maharashtra Gaurav Puraskar (1990), Honorary Doctorate from the University of Jammu (1991) Padmashree (1991), Ustad Hafiz Ali Khan Award (1998), and Padma Vibhushan (2001), to name a few.
The event ended with President Mukherjee felicitating the Santoor maestro and his two accompanying artists, one of whom is a disciple from Japan.