Kala Samvada with Pt. Shubhendra Rao and Vid. Saskia Rao de-Haas

Pt. Shubhendra Rao and Vid. Saskia Rao de-Haas were the esteemed guests at the School of Kalayoga’s 28th Kala Samvada session, the online conversations on the art held on 22 April 2022. 

Composer and performer, Pandit Shubhendra Rao is ranked among the key soloists of India. He is an unmatched master at his instrument whose playing reminds the listener of the masters of yore transformed into today’s era. In November 2007, he was awarded the “Youth Icon for Classical Music” by India’s popular Zee Television Network.

Vid. Saskia Rao-de Haas is a brilliant cellist and composer from the Netherlands who is based in India. She has enriched North Indian classical music with her unique instrument, the Indian cello, and created a distinctive playing style with it. In 2011, Saskia was awarded the ‘Pandit Jasraj – Rotary Club of Hyderabad Award’ for Cross-Cultural Understanding by the Maestro himself at a scintillating ceremony in Hyderabad.

Smt. Pramodini Rao (Head, School of Kalayoga) engaged the couple in a discussion on an interesting topic, “Sonority of the Soul”.

Some of the discussion points were:

  •         Sonority is a resonance, it resonates with our soul.
  •         Everybody is born with Sonority and the word describes sound better than the word ‘sound’, itself.
  •         Music has a way of enveloping us, where we feel that there is nothing else but music.
  •         Nature connects everybody with music, for example, our heartbeat.
  •         Even a baby in the womb responds to music.
  •         Music is connected with every living being, be it animals or plants.
  •         Pre-conceived notions about classical music and their perceived knowledge about their talent is what keeps people from enjoying it. When it is made interesting, they do like it.

In their drive for taking music to children in schools and making it interesting for them, the Raos use simple and children-friendly instruments, some of them specially curated with colour codes, etc. The instrument called Swartarang, is basically a miniature xylophone with coloured plates, each colour signifying a particular swara. It is helpful for a child to make an instant connection to music. They use a miniature version of the ukulele and a front-playing flute for a feel of string and wind instruments, respectively.

When asked for a message for the students of the Gurukula, Pt. Shubhendra and Vid. Saskia felt that there should be complete surrender to the guru and music. They stressed that ‘practice, practice and practice’ is the only mantra. They also reiterated that art should be a part of every child’s education.