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Once in a long while, is born a man whose efforts change the face of reality, whose conviction forces destiny to rewrite itself, whose genius has an impact across centuries. To state that Pandit Shivkumar Sharma (born 1938) has created history in the world of music, is an understatement, an inadequate attempt to capture the maestro's achievements and contributions. After all how many musicians can boast of single handedly bringing forth an obscure, almost unknown instrument to the level of being indispensable on the concert platform! Musicians and their instruments do become synonyms, but how often does an instrument acquire an identity because of a musician!
Santoor, the folk instrument from the valley of Kashmir, owes its classical status to Pandit Shivkumar Sharma. In the early decades of the twentieth century, Santoor or Shata-Tantri Veena as it was called in the ancient times, was used as an accompaniment to a specific type of singing called Sufiana Mausiqi. When Pandit Uma Dutt Sharma, a renowned vocalist from Jammu, and a disciple of Pandit Bade Ramdasji of Benaras spotted it, he was convinced of the potentialities of the instrument. After extensive research on the instrument he bestowed the responsibility of establishing it on the concert platform on his only son Shivkumar. The rest, as they say, is history.
With his creative genius, Shivkumar Sharma has created a new genre of instrumental music. Through his performance career of over a half century, he has created millions of new listeners and ardent fans of Indian classical music. His performances are such a brilliant combination of rich knowledge, perfect skill and abundant spontaneous creativity, that all the sections of listeners feel enriched. Little surprise that his concerts are awaited by connoisseurs, music students, musicians and lay listeners alike.
While he never compromises on the purity of music, Shivkumar Sharma's open minded approach has resulted in some of the most popular, innovative experimental albums like Call of the Valley, Feelings, Music of the Mountains, The Elements - Water, etc. In fact he is among those rare musicians who have been able to create successfully in the world of film music as well. Now for over forty years Santoor is an indispensable part of Indian film music. His compositions for blockbusters like Silsila, Lamhe, Chandni, Darr, etc. are all time favourites across the country.
Music, he believes, is food for the soul. Naturally, his music is meditative and soothing at the same time. His immense faith in the ancient wisdom of Vedanta has resulted in creation of music for Shlokas from the Upanishads and a new raga called Antardhwani.
Naturally, a musician with such a vast spectrum of achievements has a long list of National and International awards conferred upon him like the Honorary Citizen for the City of Baltimore, USA (1985), Sangeet Natak Academy Award (1986), Maharashtra Gaurav Puraskar (1990), Honorary Doctorate from the University of Jammu (1991) Padmashree (1991), Ustad Hafiz Ali Khan Award (1998), and Padma Vibhushan (2001), to name a few.
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