18-year-old raga pianist idolises Pt Ravi Shankar

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Old 19-Jan-2011
Punjabi Gabru
Post 18-year-old raga pianist idolises Pt Ravi Shankar

18-year-old raga pianist idolises Pt Ravi Shankar

Utsav Lal, all of 18 years, who has made a name for himself by playing the ragas on piano, looks up to veteran sitar player Ravi Shankar and wants to take Indian music global like him.
The Dublin-based pianist, often referred to as a child prodigy as he has been playing the western instrument since the age of seven, is looking to share Indian music with the rest of the world.
"I look upto Ravi Shankarji since he was the first person to take Indian classical music global. It''s something that I am passionate about. Also Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma, because what he did for the Santoor what I''m trying to do for the Piano - create a place for it in Indian classical music," Utsav told PTI.
Although he is deeply immersed in the ragas now, Utsav began by playing old, classical-based Bollywood songs, which opened his eye towards the magic of Hindustani music.
"It was the music of composers like Roshan, Naushad in songs like "Madhuban mein radhika" or "Laaga chunari mein daag" which were clearly Raga based, that first pulled me towards Hindustani Classical. It drew me to the challenge of expressing raga music on piano," said Utsav, who was in the capital to perform at ''Ragas to Reels'' - a musical evening presented by Yes Bank.
Utsav is currently on his third tour in India. In 2007 he did a concert series called ''Jaane kahan gaye woh din'' recreating Raj Kapoor''s music on piano and in 2009 a five-city tour titled ''Ragas dance off piano keys''.
"In the west, my efforts are always to educate them at a concert, so that they can appreciate the music. But here I can focus on just making music, as people know and enjoy classical ragas. It feels just right to perform in India."
The Delhi boy moved to Ireland five years ago with his family and Utsav says the shift has helped his career.
"Moving to Ireland has had dual benefits as it helped me enhance my Western Classical & Jazz training with the music teachers and schools there. It has also given me a platform to reach out to music lovers in the western world," said Utsav.
At the age of 14, his name featured in the Limca Book of Records and Utsav was officially recognized as a ''Young Steinway Artist'' in February 2010; the accolades have encouraged him to keep up the good work.
"I want to make a place for myself in the Indian music scene and carve a place for ragas on the piano. As far as Bollywood is concerned, my approach is one that welcomes any avenues which allow for further exploration of my music.�It could be an interesting challenge," said Utsav.

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