One of the most identifiable sound of Kashmiri classical music resonates from the santoor. Though highly popular among the classical music fans, it has relatively lesser exponents than other Indian classical instruments. The instrument produces sounds that soothe the soul.
The name that is synonymous with santoor is Pandit Shivkumar Sharma. The man has been solely credited with the mainstreaming of the santoor. From the 1960s, Panditji has travelled the world performing at some of the biggest stages and collaborating with pioneers of the music world.
The santoor legacy is now been taken forward by his son, Rahul Sharma.
Rahul began learning the santoor under the guidance of his father when he was just 13 years of age. He started out by playing the harmonium, and the keyboard. It was when Panditji noticed his talent to recreate a song, he introduced him to the santoor.
“My father, who is my Guru, is biggest influence. I am indebted to my father’s teachings and the learning process still continues,”
While growing up, like any other child, his father was Rahul’s role model. Later as he explored new genres of music, the thought of incorporating the santoor to those sounds was drew his attention.
“The santoor was a little known Kashmiri instrument. My father brought it on the classical stage and took it to great heights. Now through me the santoor will probably reach a newer audience,”
smiled the reclusive maestro.
Taking the santoor to the global audience
Rahul has been collaborating with musicians globally to take the santoor to achieve this. His collaborations include work with French pianist Richard Clayderman, Grammy winning musicians such as Deep Forest and KennyG. Rahul’s album with the latter topped the US Jazz Billboard charts.
These collaborations have given him the centre stage at venues across the world. Be it the Pyramids in Egypt or the Florence Museum in Italy. The highlight of his career, so far, according to Rahul has been performing for a special function hosted by the Prime Minister’s office.
“Well, I am fortunate to have been called for a special performance by our Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He had asked me to play a popular Beatles song for the Prince William and Princess Kate,”
Rahul’s approach to his music has being unfettered. He lends himself the mental space of expanding his thoughts beyond the traditional approach.His album ‘The Rebel’ is a first of its kind santoor-Rock album. Usually, one would not associate an instrument like the santoor in a rock ensemble, but in this album the santoor is in a new avatar.
Every musician feels a spiritual connection while performing. Whether it’s through their music or the vibes of the audience. It affects the human body and emotions. It happens with the audience as well, but it’s relative.
“While playing its natural to lose yourself like an out of body experience, or connect to a higher spiritual power.”
admits Rahul, adding,
“I express myself best through my santoor.”