A 'note' worthy talent

A 'note' worthy talent

At 20 years of age, pianist Utsav Lal is a musician extraordinaire who has set a precedent in the world of music with his rendition of ragas on the piano.

Choosing to perform on an instrument that has traditionally been considered unsuitable for Hindustani classical music, Utsav’s innovative handling of ragas blend his diverse musical influences and leaves his listeners spellbound. His soulful renditions in traditional alap jod jhala style are expressed with simplicity, sincerity and depth and have won him fans in every corner of the world.

Born on August 18 1992, Utsav gave his debut solo piano concert in New Delhi at the age of nine. Over the years, the young musician trained and excelled in three diverse genres of Western classical, Indian classical and Jazz.

With an early training in piano, Utsav completed all grade exams as a classical pianist at 14 and obtained the ATCL Piano Diploma with distinction from Trinity Guild hall, London at 17 years of age. In 2010, he was awarded the prestigious ABRSM fully paid International scholarship by the Associated Board of the Royal School of Music, London to pursue a music degree in Jazz piano at one of UK’s largest music conservatoire-Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Glasgow where he is currently based.

Metrolife spoke to the young artist on why he started learning piano. “I was very fascinated with the size of the instrument when I was a kid and that is how I developed the interest. Also, piano has a great tonal quality and gives a huge variety of music. Piano just goes beyond genres and  social classes.”

Utsav’s musical creativity draws from his advanced training in western classical and jazz at the world’s best international music conservatoires, along with the exploration of Dhrupad style under his Guru, Ustad F Wasifuddin Dagar and instrumental style under violinist mentor Sharat Srivastava.

Giving the GenX a message on Indian classical music, the young prodigy, says, “Indian classical music is a huge treasure for us. There’s a huge respect for it in abroad. They love our folk music also. So, we should value our treasure even more.”

“Also, a lot of people don’t have the patience to listen to Indian classcial music, but in abroad people love listening to tanpura and tabla. They are really fascinated with these instruments,” adds Utsav.

One of his most exciting projects has been a collaboration to explore the symbiosis of sound with Brighton-based pianist, composer and inventor, Geoff Smith who unveiled his creation, the Fluid Piano in 2009. In 2012, Utsav also collaborated to perform with percussionist Talvin Singh at Kings Place-London, Pt Samir Chaterjee at Asia Music Society-Hong Kong and Scottish fiddler-Adam Sutherland at the Strings of the World Festival. In Dec 2012, Utsav made history with a live telecast on National TV of his two-hour-long solo concert, the first ever performance of ragas on the piano at the 137th edition of Harivallabh Sangeet Samelan, India’s oldest classical music festival.

His versatility has also seen him carve an enviable reputation as a jazz pianist in the vibrant jazz scene of Scotland and Ireland. A regular performer with several jazz bands and the Tommy Smith Youth Jazz orchestra, Utsav’s interests have steered him towards collaborative projects with other instruments like the violin, sitar, mridangam, Irish flute, saxophone and also the Japanese shakuhachi. With training in diverse genres, he has also conducted several workshops titled for aspiring musicians in India and Ireland.

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