Bengaluru guitarist wins prestigious award

Kabir Dabholkar plays Western classical music on the guitar.

The Western classical music scene in India is all about increasing its exposure, musician Kabir Dabholkar says.

 All it took for the young guitarist was a teacher’s recommendation to try out something different and he was immediately hooked to the style. It has taken him to festivals around India and overseas over the last few years. This year, he was named winner of the Olga and Jules Craen Foundation’s “Young Musician of the Year” Award.

He hopes Western classical music will only continue to grow in India. “The level is still not as high as it is in Europe or the United States . . . it isn’t as well taught in India, it’s not the same,” he says. He adds, “It takes time because it’s a whole new style of music and it’s not very easy. It has its own aspects which are very different from Indian music.”

It is improving, he says, with the internet giving people more access to different kinds of music. “It’s really about getting more exposure so people can tell the difference between the music. “Listening is a big part of it. You can pick up what the music is by listening. “We need to get more and more awareness to it and get the kids exposed.”

Growing up in Bengaluru, Kabir has always had a love for music and from a young age, he was playing pop and rock on his steel string guitar.

As a teenager, he moved into the classical world, and he has been a regular at the annual Calcutta International Classical Guitar Festival for the last five years.

Kabir loves the variety and challenge of performing on a classical guitar. “It was a generally slow process of discovery,” he says and adds, “I started to really love it.”

He cites Czech guitarist Pavel Steidl as an inspiration as he is “amazing to watch”.“He really knows what it means to express himself and tries to get into character.”

This year’s win helped open more doors for Kabir, from masterclasses with guitarists to concerts around Pune where he’s studying science.

It also involved a summer stint in France where he studied with Jérémy Peret and Florian Larousse in Paris and with Judicaël Perroy in Tignes at the MusicAlp academy.

And, while he might be pursuing a science degree, the guitar is taking anything but a backseat. Kabir wishes to balance his studies with a potential career as a guitarist. “It’s not one over the other,” he says. He adds, “It takes a lot of luck and hard work to be a professional and a practising concert musician.”

Kabir is gearing up for a series of concerts around India, including in his hometown this week. 
Emily Ford
* Kabir plays at The Bangalore School of Music, RT Nagar at 7 pm on October 19.  

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Bengaluru guitarist wins prestigious award

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