Joining Lahiri will be tabla player Subrata Bhattacharya and Dr. Souryadeep Bhattarachayya, who currently lives in Atlanta and is a recent Ph.D. in chemical engineering from Georgia Tech.
Asha Atlanta is a chapter of Asha for Education, an international non-profit that supports educational projects in India. Among the projects Asha funds are vocational training for visually impaired students in Karantaka State, education for girls living in slums in West Bengal, a hostel for the children of sex workers in Uttar Pradesh and bicycles for girls to attend secondary schools in Gujarat State. Tech students raise money through events such as Strings for Hope, running in marathons as Team Asha and donating wages from working concessions at Tech sporting events.
Lahiri has been performing on the sarod since he was 11 years old. The sarod is a traditional instrument in Indian music that might be thought of as a cross between a sitar and a slide guitar. Lahiri is the son and disciple of Pandit Alok Lahiri, one of India’s most eminent sarod players, and has been twice nominated for a GIMA (Global Indian Music Award). INtown spoke with Lahiri earlier this month.
What was it like growing up as the son of a much celebrated sarod player?
First of all, I would like to mention that I consider being born in a family where music is the only way of life is nothing but a blessing itself and trying to pursue that legacy gives one an immense sense of responsibility. I feel I am privileged that I got to see and live with a celebrated sarod player as my Guru (Teacher) and Father since my birth. While growing up I was taught to breathe music and I know no other way of life. Alongside it also comes with the pressure of the high expectation my audience have which keeps me thriving.
What was it like to be recognized as a prodigy?
Honestly, when I was a child of 7 or 8 I used to be called as a child prodigy but it never really made any sense to me because I was too naive and young to even understand the lyrical meaning of the word ‘prodigy’. It never actually bothered me in any way. I was only happy learning from my father.
What have been some of the highlights of your career?
I remember that legendary flute maestro Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia calling at my home for the “Saath – Saath Festival” he organized in Mumbai and inviting me to give a performance when I was a boy of 11. Eminent tabla player Pt. Vijay Ghate was accompanying me. After that, I was selected for the “World Kinder Festival” in Holland when I was 13. I think these two national and international debut performances were the most important turning points of my life. Other important performances include the recitals I have given at the Europe Parliament (France) as first Indian sarod player, Theatre de la Ville (France), the Chicago Cultural Centre World Music Festival (USA), Darbar Festival (London), and the Hamamatsu Museum of Music Instruments in Japan. Some memorable concerts at home have been the Dover Lane Music Conference, Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture in Kolkata, Pt Ravi Shankar Institute in New Delhi, and Harivallabh Sangeet Samaroh (Oldest Music Festival in India). Also being one of the youngest A Grade Artists of All India Radio and National Television and being nominated for GiMA Awards twice are also big achievements for me. And recently I was sent to Cyprus and Morocco by the Ministry of Culture as a Cultural Delegate of India. I feel I am honored.
What do you love most about playing the sarod?
I did not choose this instrument, but the sarod chose me! Since childhood I have been awestruck with its tone, its magnificent sound and I feel with this instrument you can gel with any kind of music. I am doing several cross cultural projects all around the globe and the sarod gives me the liberty to do it with ease.
Why is music so important to humanity?
I think music is the universal language through which we can spread peace and happiness and to help cure the unrest that is happening worldwide at the moment. I also feel that it is the easiest way to reach the God.
What will your concert at Georgia Tech be like and who will be playing with you?
It will be purely an Indian Classical sarod concert. I am going to play classical Ragas suitable to the time along with tabla accompaniment. I will be accompanied on the tabla by Subrata Bhattacharya from Kolkata. In this concert, my beloved brother, Souryadeep Bhattacharyya, who is a disciple of my father will join me on stage and together we will perform a Raga which is taught by our Guru.