Postcard Spotlight is an interview series showcasing young leaders and creative minds who are making their mark with their unique talent and drive.
In the spotlight we have Ashwin Bapat, a lover of football, movies and all things music! A professional santoor player, Ashwin lets us in on his musical journey, as he talks about his origin as a musician, his aspirations and his experience of teaching the craft.
Tell us about your journey – how did you get into music?
My mom’s side of the family is into classical music so I was naturally drawn to it right from the time I was born. I formally started learning the tabla at the age of 5 and I learnt it for 13 years. When I was 12 years old I heard the Santoor for the first time and instantly fell in love with the sound of the instrument, but I started learning it at the age of 18.
Where do you draw creative inspiration from?
My inspiration comes from basic things in nature or whatever emotions you experience in life. I’m not a very emotionally expressive person so my music is generally an outlet for whatever I’m feeling. It also originates from spirituality so most of my inspiration comes from turning inward rather than from any external things.
Describe the experience of performing for All India Radio as a child artiste.
I think I must’ve been around 8 or 9 years old when I auditioned for the All India Radio. At that age, everything was just fun and games so I never took it that seriously. Luckily I got selected after which I performed a few times. The whole world of studios and recordings was very new for me. Till then I had only performed live on stage so I remember being fascinated by the whole process. Funnily enough, I never actually heard any of my recitals when they were aired because I was either at school or something.
Share the story behind your most memorable performance. What made it special?
I would say I have 2 equally memorable performances, one was at the age of 12 or so when I performed in front of tabla maestros like Pt. Suresh Talwalkar Ji, Pt. Vijay Ghate, Satyajit Talwalkar and many more. The other one would be when I performed at the Suburban Music Festival in Mumbai. This one was extremely memorable because it’s a very illustrious festival for around 75 years and the greatest legends of Indian classical music have performed on that stage. So just to be associated with that was an extremely proud and memorable moment.
Who’s the one artist you’d love to collaborate with and why?
If I ever get a chance, it would be the biggest honour to perform with Ustad Zakir Hussain. It’s every musician’s dream to one day get a chance to share the stage with him, so I guess it would be my greatest wish to come true if I get that opportunity.
What do you think the future of Indian classical music looks like?
The future of Indian classical music is very bright. As any music or art form does, even Indian classical music is evolving as it always has across centuries. But currently, more and more young people are getting drawn to it. They’re learning it or at least listening to it and respecting it. And there’s a huge number of extremely talented young artists in vocal and instrumental music as well as dance. So I think Indian classical music has a very bright future and is in very good hands.
What has been the biggest challenge of having to teach music online during the pandemic?
It’s been extremely difficult. Most of my online students are between the age of 4 – 12. In a face to face class, I can physically explain the hand positions and movements and if required even adjust their hand positions by actually holding their hand. So firstly, it’s very hard to hold their attention online for an entire hour and also to explain various hand positions through a screen. Also many times with the lag and other network issues, it’s very hard to get your message across. It’s very hard because if their hands get used to some wrong technique it’s much harder to unlearn and change that in the future. So it’s been tough but we’ve all learnt to get around that.
How do you like to spend your free time?
I’m a massive football fan, so I love to watch and study various aspects of the game and almost every other sport as well. I read quite a bit. I listen to a lot of various types of music, which is extremely important for the growth of a musician. And I love watching movies and all the various new shows available today. I never have a problem with spending time actually, in fact on most days I think days should be longer.
What’s the first thing you want to do once this pandemic is over?
Get on stage! Can’t wait to feel the energy and adrenaline rush of being in front of a crowd. It’s a feeling I relish. No doubt there are nerves involved but it’s the kind I love. So definitely waiting for concerts to start as soon as possible.
Where can people get in touch with you/see your work?