Aneesh Vidyashankar is a young and very successful violinist living in Bangalore. His first performance was at the age of 7 and a half! I met Aneesh at the comfort of his home, in a beautiful neighborhood in Bangalore. Aneesh has been trained under Mr. SR Vidyashankar an established violinist and his father too! Mr Vidyashankar also is into the derivatives industry and Mrs. Jyothi Vidyashankar, his wife, is a Carnatic singer.
Aneesh’s parents sensed his inclination towards music when he was just three years old. When they sat performing a beautiful jugalbandi one day, their tiny tot came closer to where they were performing and held the violin and uttered the word “Happy”. Aneesh had named the violin ‘Happy’. This continued for a couple of days. His parents found this to be very profound and his father decided to teach him to play the violin. That’s how the journey began and he has never looked back ever-since!. Aneesh has performed all round the globe and has been performing for the past 14 and a half years. He is a National Award winner, and has recently won ‘The Rotary Youth Icon’ award from the Rotary Club. Along with pursuing a career in music, he is also in the final year of training to become an architect.
Your career in music began long ago, you could have made that your only career; how did architecture happen?
Aneesh - I’ve been asked this several times. When I was young, I had decided that I wanted to do something creative. Engineering was not really the thing for me. Fine arts & medicine were just options. But I found architecture interesting. It’s an open profession. Many avenues. I truly believe that if time is managed well and if you are dedicated you can manage two careers.
Most of our subsequent conversation revolves around music.
So, how is it to have your father as your guru?
Aneesh - I am blessed to have my parents as gurus.
Vidyashankar – We have a great relationship. We have respect for each other. There is more respect than fear.
What do you really like about being a violinist?
I enjoy the feeling while playing music. I enjoy it when people can connect to the music I play!
Tell us more about your musical performances. Are there any performances you find very different from your usual concerts?
Aneesh – Let me tell you about my interactions and my global fusion with corporates – on days when they have day long brain storming sessions/discussions – my performance is interspersed between their discussions (it is a new concept). This keeps the employees engaged.
I also do performances to facilitate meditation. The global fusion I do combines music from all over the world with our forms of Indian music. Recently, I was performing in a college. Close to 1000 students, our age, were listening to a Carnatic performance. They could all resonate to it. I ended the performance with ‘Gangnam Style’. It’s a two-way communication with my audience. My eyes are closed but I am with them.
Vidyashankar – It’s almost as if he creates music on stage. No performance is rehearsed but is structured. Art shouldn’t have boundaries. He fuses a song like ‘Sheila Ki Jawani’ or ‘Summer of 69’ into Carnatic music with ease. His foundation is classical, & plays in the Lalgudi style. It’s difficult to explain how it all happens in reality.
What are your dreams for the future?
Aneesh – I believe that it’s important to change with time. Of course, having said that, we mustn’t lose our roots. I enjoy fusing music. But I don’t believe in getting carried away. In fact, I am proud of the traditional form of music I am trained in. I want to be able to revive music. I am open to listen to all kinds of music – I listen to a large variety of genres! There is something to learn from every type of music.
What is important for a career in music?
Vidyashankar – For a career in any art form, you must have some inherent talent. There is a lot of hard work that goes into a career in music. You have to have a free hand at music. Being a natural is very important in an artist. Respect the art form. Name and fame are incidental – they are just by-products.
How should one think of a career? Would you like to give any career advice?
Vidyashankar – Theoretically, one would say you have to find a career that you enjoy. Many a times, this doesn’t happen. Ultimately your career also needs to earn bread for your family.
Enjoying the work you do is in your hands. Give your best. Aim big. Don’t be bogged down by challenges – challenges bring opportunities.
The interview ended with another cute anecdote that Aneesh’s father smilingly recalls:
(At this point Aneesh’s mother joined us in the conversation)
This was 19 years ago. Aneesh was two and a half years old. There was a Kerala store in the neighborhood run by a shopkeeper who was very fond of Aneesh. Aneesh was a happy-go-lucky, happy, smiling child. We had seen an advertisement in the newspaper which said “Bring your old mosquito repellent and exchange it for a new one”. It was the last day for the offer and late in the evening. On Aneesh’s insistence, we went to the store to have our repellent exchanged. Little Aneesh said “change madu beku” (meaning we need to change the repellent). To which the shopkeeper responded that there were none left. He was sad to have disappointed Aneesh. Jyothi and I decided to head back home. This little fellow stopped to say something “All this week you must have exchanged so many pieces. Can you show them to me”. The shopkeeper was perplexed. And so were we. “There must be at least one which somewhat works which we can take home”. We took a working piece home that day!
Aneesh’s music - www.youtube.com/aneeshvvs
Image Courtesy – Aneesh Vidyashankar
http://dnasyndication.com/dna/article/DNBAN7752 - The violin legacy lives on
http://www.hindu.com/2005/04/09/stories/2005040912030300.htm - Violin recital by 13 year old Aneesh Vidyashankar
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