Pt Satish Vyas: Spreading santoor's magic : The Tribune India

Join Whatsapp Channel

Pt Satish Vyas: Spreading santoor's magic

Pt Shiv Kumar Sharma’s most prominent disciple, Pt Satish Vyas, on the upcoming Gunidas Sangeet Sammelan

Pt Satish Vyas: Spreading santoor's magic


Krishnaraj Iyengar

For millions in India and across the globe, the strains of the santoor have offered solace, especially when its long-haired maverick with his striking personality meditatively caressed its hundred strings. The late Pt Shiv Kumar Sharma’s legacy lives on through the passion of his disciples and followers. Among them is his most eminent disciple, Pt Satish Vyas, who continues to spread the santoor’s sonorousness globally.

Having turned 72 recently, he is upbeat about the upcoming Gunidas Sangeet Sammelan, scheduled to be held from November 30 to December 2 at Mumbai. It is one of India’s biggest classical music festivals being organised by Pt Vyas for the last 47 years. Stalwarts such as Bhimsen Joshi, Kishori Amonkar, Alla Rakha, Zakir Hussain and Birju Maharaj have performed at the sammelan.

This year, Pt Vyas also commemorates the centenary of his father, the legendary vocalist Pt CR Vyas. “My father embodied three different styles: Kirana, Gwalior and Agra. The festival is named after one of his gurus, Pt Jagannath Bua Purohit of the Agra gharana, known as Gunidas,” he explains.

Having initially trained under his father as a vocalist, Pt Satish Vyas, a science graduate, says he awakened to the santoor at a concert by Pt Shiv Kumar Sharma. “I was hardly interested in classical music. However, it was at a concert held in Mumbai’s Vallabh Sangeet Vidyalaya that I saw this young, incredibly handsome man playing a strange instrument that I was clueless about. The sound captivated me and I decided to learn santoor,” he shares.

Having pursued classical music alongside a high-profile bank job, he performs internationally as well as teaches. Sadly, he feels, takers for the santoor are fewer than those for other classical instruments. “Despite its tranquil tone, not many opt to learn the santoor; it is a highly difficult instrument to master. Imagine, even to tune its hundred strings takes ages to perfect!” he says.

With counterparts in Central Asia and Europe, the Indian santoor, Pt Vyas believes, originated in Srinagar. “While we can’t really say which one emerged first, the Indian santoor or its other counterparts, India’s history of classical santoor pioneered by my guru is around 65 years old,” he explains.

After facing initial criticism for choosing an instrument with technical limitations that rendered it unsuitable for raga music, Shiv Kumar Sharma made several modifications to enable ‘meed’ glides and other nuances played on the sitar, sarod and other instruments. “And then, he made history!” Pt Vyas smiles. Interestingly, the santoor, he believes, is as much melodic as it is percussive since it is struck with strikers called qalam, rather than plucked with a plectrum.

Pt Vyas is all set to perform at the upcoming three-day festival along with musicians like sitarist Shujaat Khan, sarod exponent Amaan Ali Bangash, and vocalists Anand Bhate and Manjusha Patil. For Pt Vyas, the most unforgettable concert held at the fest was of Pt Ravi Shankar in 1981 and his electrifying performance of Raga Puriya.

The Gunidas Sammelan has also catapulted the careers of many famous Hindustani musicians. “Once Zakirji was unavailable and kathak monarch Pt Birju Maharaj, despite initial reluctance, was accompanied by tabla exponent Shafaat Ahmed Khan, after which the latter became famous. When Bhimsenji’s harmonium accompanist didn’t turn up, his replacement happened to be the veteran Purshottam Walawalkar. He went on to accompany the vocalist till the very end,” he reminisces.

When asked about the future of santoor, Pt Vyas is optimistic. “If a hundred students learn an instrument, all cannot become stalwarts. Only a few achieve great heights. The same holds true for santoor,” he says.


Top News

Delhi High Court dismisses Manish Sisodia’s bail pleas in money-laundering and corruption cases

Delhi High Court dismisses Manish Sisodia’s bail pleas in money-laundering and corruption cases

Justice Swarna Kanta Sharma says Sisodia's conduct amounted ...

Haryana’s Sirsa sizzles at 47.8 degrees as there is no sign of respite from sweltering heat

Haryana’s Sirsa sizzles at 47.8 degrees as there is no sign of respite from sweltering heat

There is no relief predicted in the affected areas -- Punjab...

1 dead, others injured after London-Singapore flight hit severe turbulence, Singapore Airlines says

British man dies, around 30 passengers injured as turbulence hits Singapore Airlines flight

The flight is diverted and lands in stormy weather in Bangko...

3 Indians among passengers aboard Singapore Airlines flight hit by ‘sudden extreme turbulence’

3 Indians among passengers aboard Singapore Airlines flight hit by ‘sudden extreme turbulence’

The traumatic incident in which the aircraft descended 6,000...

Pakistan-based handler was to give location, time of attack, suspected IS terrorists tell investigators

Pakistan-based handler was to give location, time of attack, suspected IS terrorists tell investigators

The Gujarat Anti-Terrorist Squad arrested 4 Sri Lankan natio...


Cities

View All