‘My Video Playlist’ – Prabhat Rao
Prabhat Rao is a leading Hindustani Classical Vocalist of the younger generation based in London, UK. He is currently a disciple of Professor Ojesh Pratap Singh of the Gwalior, Agra and Jaipur Gharanas. He has previously trained under Guru Chandrima Misra at the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan in London. In addition to his understanding of the Raagas and command over Laya, his focus has always been around the aesthetics of Khyal and bringing out the Bhava (emotion) in every composition that he presents. He demystifies this ancient art form and ensures that both learned and new audiences leave with an appreciation of his Khyal.
Prabhat belongs to a South Indian family and spent his early years with his grand mother, who was an exponent of Carnatic Classical Music. His father has been the main driving force for his growth in music and has encouraged him to explore various genres of music including Western Classical music before deciding to take up an advanced study of Hindustani music.
He holds a masters in classical music, from the University of London. He is a dedicated teacher and has trained students for performances, exams and collaborative music projects. He leads an organisation called “In Spotlight” which aims at providing performance opportunities to up-and-coming artists in London.
Prabhat has travelled and performed in the UK, Europe, India and Singapore, including venues such as the Mountbatten Hall, Southbank Centre and Barbican Centre in the UK. He has performed at major music festivals including the Edinburgh Fringe festival and has been a lead vocalist for UK’s national Indian Classical Ensemble, “Tarang”. His collaborations include working with Western Classical ensembles, middle – eastern musicians and a fusion project incorporating a popular Beatles track for the 2012 London Olympics closing ceremony. He has shared the stage with various senior artists such as Ustad Taufiq Quereshi, Padma Vibhushan Pandit Birju Maharaj and Bharat Ratna Pandit Ravi Shankar and these experiences have moulded Prabhat into a rounded musician.
Prabhat is also associated with the Chinmaya Mission which provides him the much needed focus and devotion in his musical journey. This combination of knowledge and experience in music with a voice that instantly connects with listeners makes his concerts a memorable experience.
Q: What is the concert/recording/track you listen to the most? And why?
A: This is a recording of Pt. Ulhas Kashalkar ji that I listen to most mornings. Bibhas is a meditative morning Raaga and Ulhas ji’s redition is mind blowing. Its a great start to my day.
Q: Which artists do you watch for inspiration? What do you like about those tracks / artists / concerts?
A: This can be quite a long list, but the ones that come to mind immediately are Pt Ulhas Kashalkar, Vidushi Kishori Amonkar, Vidushi Veena Sahasrabuddhe, Pt Suresh Talwalkar, Pt Yogesh Samsi, Pt Gajanan Rao Joshi and Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan. Each of these artists have at least one aspect of creativity that I am inspired by and would like to imbibe over time by listening to their music… well that’s the hope!
Q: Can you recommend a Hindustani music track that inspires you the most? Why?
A: I am myself exploring Raag Bhimpalasi at the moment and having learnt two of the compositions that are in this recording, this is a great asset to a practitioner like me. In no way are we encouraged to copy or imitate a senior artist, but there are elements in here which have influenced me and I feel connected to what Ulhas ji is conveying through his music here.
Q: Can you recommend a Carnatic music track that inspires you the most? Why?
A: I am absolutely in awe of Vidwan TM Krishna’s treatment of this krithi. Having started my journey with Carnatic music, the genre is very close to my heart. This particular composition is spectacular and the artist does complete justice to it in my opinion.
Q: Can you share a video which demonstrates a great interaction between two artists on stage, something that inspires you?
A: Ever since I saw Rama Vaidyanathan at the Indika festival, she is one of the most commonly searched artists in my YouTube history! This video of her at the Natyakala Conference in Chennai has a section where she explores the emotions that a mother goes through as she sees her daughter grow up into a young woman. Rama ji’s choreography and her daughter Dakshina’s execution on stage is marvelous. Supported by a great team of musicians, this is a video that I keep going back to to watch the chemistry between all the artists involved.
Q: Can you share some videos of your guru and contemporaries – One from your guru, and tell us about it ?
A: My Guru, Prof Ojesh Pratap Singh presents a short version of Raag Barwa here. This is a complex Raag that is a speciality of the Agra Gharana and a strong influence of this can be heard both in the alaap section and the way the bandish has been presented. I have once Guruji to teach this to me, but he hasn’t agreed yet… so I continue to listen in the hope that if and when he does decide to teach it to me, I can surprise him with a few phrases that I might already know!
Q: And one from your colleagues or contemporaries in India or England?
A: Tara Kannan is an up and coming vocalist in India and is a co-student also training under my Guruji in Delhi. She is one who lives up to her name – definitely the “Star” of our musical family.
Q: What are you doing next?
A: At the moment, I am recording a few pieces and collaborating with other musicians here in the UK and globally to produce videos which will be put on social media in due course. Trying our best to adapt to the times we live in where meeting and jamming is not really an option at the moment.