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Yadnesh Raikar makes the violin breathe

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In this new series, we talk of young musicians making a mark in Indian music. Some of them belong to musical families, while others play for the love of music.

In this third part of the series, we explore a prolific young Mumbai-based violinist, Yadnesh Raikar.

As a child, Yadnesh Raikar got many opportunities to attend concerts by the legendary Kishori Amonkar. His father, violinist Pt Milind Raikar, learned from the ace vocalist and would accompany her on stage. Initially, Yadnesh would just enjoy listening to music, but when he started learning himself, he looked at things with a new perspective.

Though Yadnesh eventually settled for the violin, following in his father’s footsteps, he actually began with the tabla.

“Like all kids, I was attracted to percussion. But after seeing my father practising violin, I developed a keen interest in learning the instrument,” he recalls.

The 20-year-old musician says that though it normally takes at least a month to get the posture right, his father once told him that it was much quicker in his case. Since his father incorporated the gayaki ang, or vocal elements, Yadnesh began learning vocal music from Pt Vasantrao Kadnekar, Anand Pednekar and for a short period from Amonkar herself. Today, he also learns from senior vocalist Pt Arun Kashalkar and violin maestro Dr L. Subramaniam.

Having given his first concert at the age of four, Yadnesh has performed in major festivals like the Hridayesh Arts Festival in Mumbai, Jitendra Abhisheki Festival and SwarMangesh Festival in Goa, and Sawai Gandharva Bhimsen Mahotsav in Pune. He has also played the role of the young Pt D.V. Paluskar in the documentary Gaanyogi, based on the life of the famed singer.

“My focus has been on classical music, but I also listen to a lot of jazz and blues. So I am open to blending those styles,” says Yadnesh, adding that he is not in favour of the word ‘fusion’. “I prefer the term global music or world music, as basically we blend music from different parts of the world. My father has learnt different forms of music, and thus I am also exposed to a good variety,” he says.

Besides his gurus, Yadnesh has been deeply influenced by violinist Pt D.K. Datar, who taught his father. “Datar Ji was a pioneering violinist in the north Indian tradition, and I was lucky to be indirectly exposed to his music,” he says.

Is learning vocal music important for violin playing? Yadnesh says,

“In north Indian music, people either played the instrumental style or the vocal style. The violin is a complete string instrument with no frets, and the meend (a kind of ornamentation) plays a very important role. When learning vocal music, the chances of making the instrument breathe are higher.”

Besides his father, he cites other examples of violinists learning from vocalists – the great N. Rajam from Pt Omkarnath Thakur and Kala Ramnath from Pandit Jasraj. He adds,

“Because of my father’s style, my own playing is based on Kishori Ji’s Jaipur-Atrauli style, specially the alaap and the raag build-up. From Kashalkar Ji, I have learnt a lot of bandishes. While playing raag Bhoop has its challenges, one should be also able to play rarer raags like Basant Kedar. It’s important to learn as many bandishes as possible. Simultaneously, learning from Dr L Subramaniam has helped me open my mind to a different style.”

After studying at Bombay Cambridge School, Yadnesh graduated in commerce from Mumbai’s M.L. Dahanukar College. He admits,

“From the beginning, the only thing I wanted to do was become a musician. My mother, Maheema Raikar, listens to a lot of music and plays the violin too. She gave me full encouragement as my father helped me finetune my skills. I hope to do my masters in music soon.”

Yadnesh is also busy with the Raikar Academy of Violin, started by his father in 2006. He loves composing, keeping a guitar and keyboard handy with his violin. When he isn’t practicing music, he loves trekking or a game of badminton. Of late, Netflix has become another pastime. He recently watched Chaitanya Tamhane’s The Disciple, whose story revolves around Indian classical music, and loved the idea.

The focus shall remain music, of course. At his age, Yadnesh displays a rare maturity and sense of responsibility. And he has the right people to guide him in his quest.

Narendra Kusnur

Author: Narendra Kusnur

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