Biography

The brilliant and charismatic sitar player Pandit shalil shankar, one of the leading exponent and itinerant cultural ambassador, and popular musician of the international music scene today. He lives in Switzerland and enjoys an enviable reputation as an artist. He learnt his art with legendary Maestro Pandit Ravishankar in sixties in a rarefied atmosphere of traditional “Gurukul” system. He practised 12-14 hours a day, besides his academic Master degree in Anthropology and Doctorate in music. The Buenos Aires herald describes, “The legendary maestro shalilshankar, who has toured the world with his music, brakes down religious and political barriers with the universal language of music in order to create a spiritual bond between the two worlds.

(Excerpt from his interviews) He recalls “As a child when I was afflicted by a serious illness and lying alone in bed, one day through the window I had a vision. A large luminous aura, a face appeared in the evening sky. Whom I never knew. Later I know it was my Guru Ravishankar.”

“During my childhood it was impossible to have a sitar due to poverty, but to fulfil my thurst when ever I used find a piece of string or something to fix on a piece of wood, or striking to a brass bowl to hear the music. It was like a sound of universe.

As a boy, I worked very hard to earn money to buy a sitar, but with the help from my father and by sculpting a Saraswati I managed to buy a sitar. Actually my parents were very much against of my sitar playing so that my school studies do not suffer.

I remember a famous musician Birendra Kishor Roy Chowdhury a jaminder and well known for patronising musicians. I used to visit him often with the desire to learn music from him. He was very kind and generous man. But he was a teacher and scholar of very high degree. I was an ignorant boy, but realising my situation he requested my Guru to teach me. Long cherished dream came true.”

“In mid nineties, while touring in Italy I met Alfredo Offidani a great spiritual man through Juan Golastra, a friend of mine. Meeting Alfredo, was an explosion in my life and my musical carrer. His love and friendship opened the door and gave me a new strength to launch my musical venture in Latin American countries and fulfilling my spiritual quest.”

“From the childhood, I’m in love with western classical music. Therefore it is a blessing, that I live in Switzerland and I can use all my time to study western music and write concerto for sitar and symphony orchestra to find my own connection to the great wealth of western culture. That is my priority. I am glad that people loved my humble work.”

His daring attempt to write for classical symphony orchestra and the Indian sitar, brings together the philharmonic character of western music and the melodic nature of eastern music in one form. The album “Tribute to east-west friendship” is a unique example of musical bridge between the two cultures. Evening Telegraph says: Shalil shankars second symphony – a marvellous blend of two cultures and musical tradition – It was breathtaking, leaving the audience mesmerised.

Xposed magazine, London describes: After the performance, or should I say experience, I met this very gentle spoken and polite man who just oozes charisma and empathy which features brilliantly in his playing – concerto for sitar and symphony orchestra. I have to say its brilliant, the bringing together of western philharmonic and sitar music is magical, mystical, spiritual, sensual and certainly full of eastern promise.

Espectaculos, Montevideo says: His concert appearance is something hypnotic, almost like a magical experience rather than a mere entertainment.

While he has performed in many of the worlds major concert halls, his special endeavour has been to broaden the experience of young people by introducing them to the serene and spiritual sound of classical music through his lectures and demonstrations. David parker head of Franklin College of music said: Shalil shankar raises our awareness of different culture and styles of music. He does a lot of educational workshops, teaching the fundamentals and the difference of western and eastern music while travelling for his concert around.