Highly praised by music critics, the singer Uday Bhawalkar counts in present-day India as one of the younger generation´s leading exponents of dhrupad, one of the oldest forms of classical song still current in the north of India. It began in Hindu temples and was then performed in at the courts of Hindu rajas and Muslim conquerors from about the 14th century on. At first the texts were only religious but were then extended to include praise of noble patrons and expressions of erotic love.
Though the word ´guru´ has become dubious in western ears, it is still esteemed in India, since a guru teaches manual, spiritual and moral virtues for sometimes the whole of his life. The notion that a tradition should be handed on from teacher (guru) to pupil (shishya) is basic to Indian culture.
Bhawalkar, born in 1966 in Madhya Pradesh, was taught classical Indian music from the age of eight, and a grant from the Ustad Allauddin Khan Sangeet Academy enabled him to be taught dhrupad singing by Ustad Zia Fariduddin Dagar from 1981 on. He then spent years in being taught by Ustad Zia Mohinuddin Dagar the veena - a lute esteemed for being perhaps the oldest and most difficult Indian instrument.
Uday Bhawalkar has received many honours and prizes, including the prestigious Young Musicians´ Award of the Indian ministry of culture, and has been heard outside India since the mid-80s. He has appeared for instance at the Sangeet Parampara Festival in Berlin , the World Music Festival in Switzerland, the Raga Mala in Seattle in the USA and in the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London.
Bhawalkar counts as being an outstanding dhrupad singer who not only maintains the old form´s elegance and refinement but, owing to his musical curiosity and wide range of interests, is able to add to it.
Author: Gabriele Stiller-Kern
This artist took part in the following project(s) organized/funded by the culturebase.net partner institutions.
New Perspectives from India
(19 September 03 - 16 November 03)