Following in the footsteps of giants

(Desi News July 2016)

 Music lovers can’t help but envy Aditya Verma.

It is likely that no musician in Canada has enjoyed as much access to the royalty of shastria sangeet as Aditya, whose father Narendra Verma was a disciple of Ustad Alla Rakha. “Ustadji often stayed at our home and I used to call him Nanaji”, recalls Aditya about the great tabla Maestro, who is also the father of Ustad Zakir Hussain.

RM July 2016 pic

As a son of tabla player, Aditya grew up in an environment steeped in music. Many musical giants stayed with the family during their tours in Canada – these included Hariprasad Chaurasia, Shivkumar Sharma and Ustad Zakir Hussein, to name a few.

After starting his taalim in tabla under his father, Aditya went to India in 1987 for seven years to study the sarod under Pandit Ravi Shankar, living for most of those years in the sitar legend’s home.

Following his stay in India, he moved to California to learn advanced sarod techniques from Ustad Ashish Khan at the renowned Ali Akbar College of Music. “I feel very blessed to have had instruction not just from my Guru, but also his father,” says Aditya, referring to the late Ustad Ali Akbar Khan, who is arguably the finest and most influential sarod player of the modern era.

A sense of awe fills Aditya’s voice as he talks about the years of study with his illustrious Gurus.  He marvels at how he would watch the great masters play the same raags in refreshingly new ways, making one feel as though one was listening to a raag for the first time.  “More than learning the technical aspects of playing an instrument,” says Aditya, “one understood the importance of keeping the purity of the raag and connecting with an audience”.

Aditya feels a responsibility to share his learnings with others, having conducted lecture-demonstrations at various colleges in the United States. . At any time he has up to two regular students. “It is so satisfying to start with students who are completely unaware of Indian music and, help them gradually distinguish between khayal, thumri, film song, etc.”

Having advanced students gives Aditya a chance to exercise his musical chops. “Breaking down musical phrases for your students can offer much insight to the raag that you are teaching.”

Despite having a young family to support, Aditya continues to perform and teach as much as he can. He will be performing for Raag-Mala Toronto on July 9th, accompanied by Kiran Morarji, a dynamic tabla artist who is a senior student of Ustad Zakir Hussain.

The July 9th program also features two Toronto artists Gurinder Singh (on Tabla) and Hardeep Chana (on Harmonium), who will accompany Deborshee Bhattacharjee, an outstanding young vocalist from Kolkata. Deborshee, who is a disciple of Pandit Ajoy Chakrabarty, is an “A” graded artist for All India Radio and TV, and has performed at several prestigious festivals in India and abroad.

Mohamed Khaki

 When and where?

Saturday July 9th at 6pm
Sringeri Vidya Bharati Foundation Auditorium, 80 Brydon Drive, Etobicoke
Tickets: Zahid 416-995-3968 or Rishi: 647-521-3816