Pandit Sanju Sahai

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Precise, powerful, and intricately funky, Pandit Sanju ‘Vishnu’ Sahai embodies the Benares tabla gharana. As the sixth generation of his family’s illustrious musical lineage, he was born into rhythm. His talent was recognised early - at age 9 he was playing major festivals, and completed his music degree at 13 with a Masters following at 18. He has spent a lifetime immersed in rhythm, taking his tabla around the world.

He is mindful of diluting classical tabla styles, but this has not stopped him taking them into a breathtaking array of contexts. Alongside accompanying top Hindustani musicians he has collaborated with artists spanning flamenco and jazz to opera and Gregorian chant. He has played in schools and prisons as well as for the Queen, and tutors tabla at SOAS in London. Today he lives in the UK, but travels the globe as a star accompanist and soloist.

“Once I was asked to perform with the Sugababes. The manager wanted me to sit on stage and mime rather than play. I told them ‘you’ve got the wrong guy - I practice this music 12 hours a day. I love it and this way does not allow me to respect it’.”

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