Rahul Sharma

Category Instrumental | Tags Santoor

Rahul Sharma, though born as the son of illustrious santoor master Pandit Shivkumar Sharma, did not begin learning the instrument until he was 13. Instead, he started on harmonium, only switching to the hundred-stringed box when he had mastered Hindustani music’s melodic fundamentals. He imbibed his father’s style and has since built on it, taking the santoor to new corners of the world.

After studying economics in Mumbai he decided to pursue a life of full-time music, practicing harder and deepening his emotional bond with the ragas. At age 24 he started accompanying his father at concerts, and has since toured the world with him many times. And like the great Pandit, he has become renowned for breathtaking duets with tabla master Ustad Zakir Hussain. He has released over 60 albums, with a roughly even split between classical and experimental recordings.

Rahul has taken the santoor into several distinctly modern settings, working with pianist Richard Clayderman, psy-chillout pioneers Deep Forest, and smooth jazz artist Kenny G. He has also taken the instrument back to its roots, recording with traditional Kashmiri musicians and exploring Sufi devotional music, and even turned up on Indian TV playing flamenco-tinged music in an extravagant Taj Mahal Tea advert (‘waah Taj!’) Outside of music he is an advocate for animal rights, and finds peace from his hectic schedule by hiking around Maharashtra.

"Performing and collaborating live on stage is more spontaneous, and depending on the artist, the innovations have to be done respectfully - giving equal opportunities."

—Also see Living Traditions: 21 articles for 21st-century Indian classical music, our new series exploring how music with ancient roots continues to innovate in a fast-paced, interconnected modern world. Expand your appreciation!

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Founded in 2006, Darbar Arts Culture Heritage Trust (Darbar) believes in the power of Indian classical arts to stir, thrill and inspire. Through digital connectivity, shared experiences and enrichment we ensure that one of the finest art forms reaches the widest possible audience.

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