Eminent musician Pandit Jasraj says he finds the audience composition at classical music concerts astonishing — and he feels heartened that the country’s youth is willing to take the legacy of such music forward.
“There is a large audience that has an interest in classical music and attends concerts… What’s astonishing to see is the age demography of the audience who attend these events,” Jasraj, a recipient of the Padma Vibhushan, the country’s second-highest civilian award, said.
“I have seen teenagers who have a keen interest in classical music and have started doing riyaaz pretty early to master the art. So, yes, there is a decent number of young people in the crowd that understands the legacy of classical music and is keen to take it ahead,” added the maestro, who turned 87 last month.
As a mentor and guru, Pandit Jasraj has presented to the world an impressive number of illustrious disciples whom he has nurtured. Today, his best disciples too are carrying the flag of Indian music to every corner of the world.
The octogenarian, who performed at a concert in New Delhi that launched the Navrasa Duende production house, feels “classical music will keep evolving with changing times”.
“Even today, we see there are young artistes who have chosen classical music as their area of interest and are adapting it to the current scenario. I am glad to see the acceptance of classical music among the younger generation and how they are taking the art form ahead,” he said.
He also feels technology has impacted classical music in a positive way.
“Technology has helped people to come closer than ever before and made the world a global village. Similarly, it has impacted Indian classical music in a positive manner. (It also helps) to introduce this rich genre and find newer admirers not just in India but globally, and that’s the reason you find larger audiences all over the world,” said Pandit Jasraj.
Also a proud recipient of the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award and Sangeet Martand, he said the “one thing that I wish the music industry does is to promote Indian classical music in India and abroad and carry on the legacy of our rich heritage and culture”.
Apart from performing at concerts and events both in India and on foreign shores, Pandit Jasraj has also lent vocals to films like “1920” and “Life of Pi”.
Asked if he ever felt like exploiting his potential in commercial cinema and sing for more films, he said: “There are no such attractions at this point in time.”
His message to aspiring classical singers:
“My message to them is to believe in themselves and keep doing riyaaz to better themselves. It takes years of practice and dedication to excel in the art of classical singing. Many schools across the country already have classical music as part of the curriculum, I don’t think making it mandatory will be effective.
“One needs to have a passion and interest to take up classical music as a profession. There is also a dire need of knowledgeable gurus to teach classical music in India,” he said.