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Interviews |  31 Dec 2014 18:29 |  By RnMTeam

Sitarist Ravi Chary will pick-up elements of Street music for his next venture

Sitarist Ravi Chary has many reasons to be proud –whether it is his title of the first sitarist to emerge from the Goan landscape or having the chance to play with some of the biggest names in Indian classical music like Ustad Allarakha Khan, Gaan Saraswati Kishori Amonkar, Vidwan Vikku Vinayakram, Ustad Zakir Hussain, Sri Umayalpuram Sivaraman, Pandit Suresh Talwalkar and Ustad Sultan Khan amongst others.

As a kid, Chary was surrounded with a tabla and harmonium due his father Pandit Prabhakar Chari, a noted tabla player, academician and musicologist. But he decided to pick sitar as his preferred musical instrument, with which he continues to captivate audiences around the world.

His contribution to music has been awarded numerous times, and includes a fellowship from the Ministry of HRD - Government of India, a Naad Chintamani award from the Kerala state government and a Surmani award.

Chary’s debut album 'Ravi Chary Crossing' is a critically acclaimed album and was also nominated at the GIMA awards for the Best Fusion Album. It features an eclectic mix of musicians - Louiz Banks, Ranjit Barot, Sivamani, Fazal Qureshi, Taufiq Qureshi, Sridhar Parthasarthy, Gino Banks, Satyajit Talwalkar, Sheldon D'Silva, Aditya Kalyanpur, Mukul Dongre, Dhruv Ghanekar, Harmit Manseta, Sangeet Haldipur, Amit Heri, Merlin D'Souza and Rhys Sebastian. The nine-track album is a blend of Indian Classical Music with elements from Western Music and Jazz music.

In a conversation with Radioandmusic.com, Chary talks about his recent performance at Chaturang festivals and some of his upcoming projects.

Excerpts:

How excited were you about playing at Chaturang Festival?

It was a fascinating experience to play some popular tracks from my critically acclaimed album ‘Ravi Chary Crossing’ for a capacity audience at one of Mumbai’s most revered Art Festivals, with an extremely appreciative and knowledgeable assembly of listeners. The event was also decorated with performances by some leading names from the Theatre Industry including the ranks of Dilip Prabhawalkar, Dr. Mohan Agashe, Reema Lagu, Ratnakar Matkari, Sharad Ponkshe, Subodh Bhave and other dignitaries.

Why would you say that Ustad Zakir Hussain christened your ensemble?

One of the most cherished moments of my lifetime was when I requested the legendary Ustad Zakir Hussain to kindly bless my music by suggesting a title to my debut fusion album and he christened it ‘Ravi Chary Crossing’ which was later nominated for the Global Indian Music Award. It was this Midas touch of Ustad Zakir Hussain that has been a contributing factor to the success and critical acclaim of ‘Ravi Chary Crossing’. The music is presented by the ensemble by the same name featuring myself, drumming marvel Gino Banks, tabla maestro Pandit Satyajit Talwalkar, ace bassist Sheldon D’Silva and keyboard virtuoso Sangeet Haldipur.

Which upcoming festivals will we see you play at?

The year will begin with a special performance for a special concert for World Peace and providing financial assistance to Kashmir Flood relief on 3rd January at the Kashinath Ghanekar Natyagruh, Thane after which the focus will shift to the famous Hydourite Festival at Hyderabad where I will be collaborating with the illustrious Pandit Trilok Gurtu after a long hiatus. Later, I will be performing with the inimitable percussionist Sivamani at the renowned VadFest organised at Vadodara by the Government of Gujrat under the aegis of the Vibrant Gujarat Summit.

What will be one thing you will like to experiment with?

I have collaborated with musicians of almost all nationalities and ethnicities, with a plethora of instruments with which I have tried to blend the elements of Indian Music using my Sitar as the medium. But on my recent tour of Turkey, I was spellbound by the sounds of street music, and have decided to compose music incorporating the elements of street music from around the world, as I believe it is this music which will help me connect to my audiences in a manner like never before.

What are the things you will never compromise on in music?

In my musical career spanning almost three decades, I have always abided by the principles and ethics that I have imbibed from my Gurus, be it in the respect of conduct or purity of music. Also, there was additional responsibility on my young shoulders when I emerged as the first sitarist from Goa, and have tried my level best to live up to the same. In this age of rampant digitisation of music – most of which is extremely essential and value adding – I feel the need to maintain the purity of the acoustic soul of our traditional instruments like the sitar, for which I pay careful thought.

How has the year been for you?

The year has been extremely rewarding with regards to the privileged opportunities to perform with some of the most revered musicians from India and abroad with genres as diverse as Jazz Fusion, Contemporary Dance or African and even Norwegian music at some of the most celebrated Indian and International music festivals and conferences. Looking forward to the New Year with renewed enthusiasm and energy for many more such concerts and collaborations.

How is it sharing stage with upcoming talents and with experienced artistes?

I have always strived to remain a student of music, which has enriched my music manifold. Indeed, sharing the stage with experienced artists and senior musicians is a learning experience but performing and observing upcoming talents from today’s youth is an energetic connection which enables me to keep pulse with the music of the changing times. Therefore, I consider myself to be fortunate to have been associated with maestros and emerging talents alike.

What would your New Year aim be?

I would like to continue entertaining and enriching the musical experience of all my listeners with music from traditional Indian Music, along with the diverse flavors of Global music to create a unique offering which amalgamates tradition with trends of today.