Stringing many worlds

Violinist

Stringing many worlds
She was born to the sound of music, literally. Because Sunita Bhuyan is the daughter of the famous violinist of Assam, Minoti Khaund. “But believe me, I took it for granted and never thought of taking up music seriously,” she reveals. But that was the case only till her 20s, when she realised the impact of music on one’s life and environment.

Music had been a part of Sunita’s life since the age of eight, under the tutelage of her mother. “It was a gift lovingly packaged by Ma. But to me, it was something that took away my fun time with friends and other activities. After all, violin is a tough, complex instrument, and can be rather overwhelming for a beginner,” she recalls.

Music for healing
Today, Sunita is not only known as a classical violin player at home and abroad, but also for her experimentations on using music as a tool for ensuring a sense of personal well-being and a change of outlook. Her involvement in promoting ‘music literacy’ among the underprivileged children is another activity she loves dearly.

Today, Sunita thanks her fortune that she was tutored at home on the right techniques of violin playing by her mother, her first guru. Later, she made regular trips to Kolkata, along with her mother, where both attended classes conducted by renowned violinist Pandit V G Jog. Slowly,  music became a part of her consciousness. “I spent many evenings at concert halls,  either to watch my mother perform or other great musicians from different gharanas and styles,” she says.

But her keen devotion to violin often competed for time when after an MBA degree in HRD, she took up a corporate job. But it also proved to be a platform to showcase how the medium of music can be moulded into her expertise on developing wellness and leadership qualities. For the last two decades, along with her hectic schedule of performances, she has been presenting her theme-based talks on ‘Music as a Structured Leadership Development Tool’ and has conducted workshops in premier organisations of the country. She believes that music should be a part of the HR programme of any corporate environment because she believes, “It promotes internal wellness and also inculcates positive social behaviour.”

While performing as a classical violinist, Sunita goes by the purist tradition her mother has inculcated in her. Often, the mother-daughter duo perform together. But beyond that, Sunita is also known as an Indo-fusion violinist specialising on Indo-jazz fusion, and world folk styles. Her album ‘Bihu Strings’ on Assam’s folk music, a first of its kind on a string instrument, has been a runaway hit. “I have played it in villages, small towns, cities, and it has been well accepted every time,” she says modestly. Considering that the violin is seen as an instrument originating in the West, and the sensibility of the earthy Bihu songs, the combination should have been an oddity, but it has worked.

This fusion with folk tradition has also seen Sunita working in projects with Gaelic fiddlers for Creative Scotland, Commonwealth culture series UK, and other such initiatives abroad. She points out that folk music is inherent to a land and connected to one’s soul, even if he or she is not aware of it. “As an artiste trained in a classical form, it’s important to try to develop this craft. It adds, rather than take away, from the artiste’s expansion as a creative person.”

Doing her bit
Sunita also believes in giving back to the society whatever she has learnt and practiced as an artiste. The Don Bosco Provincial House in Guwahati launched the ‘Joy of Giving’ initiative to celebrate Mother Teresa’s sainthood. Sunita has been a part of this effort, aiming at involving people in the mantra of ‘giving’ among all sections of society, starting with school children, teachers, parents, academia, and socially-conscious citizens. She travelled to the Vatican for the canonisation event of Mother Teresa in September last year and received a ‘blessings award’ from Pope Francis for her work on music therapy with underprivileged children, cancer patients, and people with disability.

Sunita is the recipient of numerous awards for her leadership in propagating music as a tool for change. To her, art is a continuous journey that does not have a fixed milestone like an academic course or a career path. “For the artiste too, the evolution of the craft unfolds along with his or her journey of life. Eventually, something spiritual happens — art and life blend together as one, each getting influenced by the other. Perhaps that’s what, gurus say, is the ultimate aesthetic experience.”

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