'Bangalore is one of the best places to perform'

'Bangalore is one of the best places to perform'

Getting recognition for playing Indian classical music with veterans from all across the globe has only made U Srinivas humbler. Ever since he took up the mandolin, he hasn’t thought of the word ‘no’.

“When I started playing the mandolin, people thought that I could not play classical music. I received a lot of criticism, however I was very confident that I could prove them wrong. Also, I was very fond of mandolin and always thought that there was no limitation playing it,” he notes.

He has collaborated with musicians and singers from all over the world. “My first collaboration was with Michael Brook, with whom I worked on an album called ‘Dream’. I also got an offer from him. I moved on to collaborate with John Mclaughlin, where we worked on the album called Shakti,” he says. “I went on to play with Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma, Pandit Jasraj, Ustad Sultan Khan. Like everyone else, I am learning everyday,” he adds. His stint with the mandolin has been more out of fondness for the instrument. He says, “When I was a child, my father was teaching me different kinds of music. But when I saw the mandolin, I fell in love with it and insisted on learning  it.”

“My father, on the other hand, wanted me to pursue academics as we come from a family of musicians. He was hesitant. But his friends told him that I was good and that is how it all began,” he smiles as he reminisces those days.

His father took him to a guru. “It was difficult to find anyone who could formally train me on the mandolin. As my guru sang, I tried to pick it up. It was a huge challenge for me as the gamakas were difficult to perform. I managed to learn and I am thankful to my guru for all that he has done for me,” he says.

His popularity grew when he was pitted against jazz phenomenon Miles Davis and his ‘All Star Band’. “Miles Davis always performed first and I was right after him. I remember the audience giving me a standing ovation after I finished. The organiser of the event then held another programme, where we performed together. There are a lot of similarities between Indian classical and jazz music as both are based on improvisations.” he says.

He feels that no form of music is difficult for a person who is adept in classical music. “I often find it easy to play and collaborate with international musicians as my base is Indian classical. It is only because of this that I can pick up various notations so easily,” he explains.

He had much to say about the audience in India, particularly in Bangalore. “India has a very mature audience and Bangalore is one of the best places to perform. The audience appreciates our music. People are amazing and warm, this stands true for Chennai, Pune, Kolkata, Trivandrum and Mumbai,” he adds.

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