From Bhimsen Joshi’s classics to contemporary Western classical music by Missy, here’s a list of modern classical artists to listen to.
Among the many stalwarts of Hindustani classical music, Bhimsen Joshi’s name stands out by a mile. The Bharat Ratna-awardee, who sang in the Kirana style was known for his deep and powerful voice and amazing musical sensibility. Born in Karnataka, he then travelled across the country to train under several masters, including Pandit Sawai Gandharva and later went on to organize the Sawai Gandharva Music Festival in Pune in his honour. The music maestro, who passed away in 2011, made his mark on the national consciousness with his appearance in the very nationalist 1988 music video, Mile Sur Mera Tumhara; he also lent his star power to AR Rehman’s rendition of the National Anthem, made to celebrate 50 years of Independence.
Siddhant Bhosle, who comes from a long line of classical singers, including his grandmother Suman Bhosle and great-grandmother Durgabhai Shirodkar says, “Training in the Bhimsen Joshi gharana has been a privilege for me. From the importance of doing riyaaz every day to learning about our musical heritage, there are many aspects of Hindustani classical music that I have learnt because of his tutelage.
“I love Zakirbhai because of what he has achieved with his instrumentation. Being a tabla player and not having to sing your way to be known as a classical musician is inspiring,” says Bhosle. The 65-year-old percussionist is one of India’s best known music artists. He trained under his father, the legendary UStad Alla Rakha, and learnt how to play the Pakhwaj at three. Credit must be given to him as a pioneer of fusion Indian music; Hussain created a unique brand of jazz fusion/world music-meets-Hindustani classical, and even started his own band, Planet Drum, with Mickey Hart, Giovanni Hidalgo and Sikiru Adepoju. Their first album won a Grammy Award in 1992 for Best World Music Album – the first ever in this category. Their second album, 2007’s Global Drum Project won a Grammy for Best Contemporary World Music Album, in 2009.
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You shouldn’t be shocked to see Shankar Mahadevan’s name on this list. If you’ve only been listening to Bollywood songs composed by Shankar Mahadevan (along with Ehsaan Noorani and Loy Mendonca), you will be surprised to know that the singer has been playing the veena since he was five, and studied under Marathi composer Shrinivas Khale. He also learnt Hindustani classical and Carnatic music before taking the Hindi film industry by storm with Breathless in 1998. But it’s his music for Dil Chahta Hai that brought him national attention in 2001. In a nod to his classical heritage, Mahadevan has prioritised the teaching of Hindustani music at his eponymous musical school as well.
He’s right up there with the greats, and this April, made his way to Mumbai for a special concert to celebrate Zubin Mehta’s 80th birthday. The master Italian composer has been credited with taking classical tenor music to mainstream audiences and democratizing Italian music for audiences worldwide. Bocelli’s albums have sold over 80 million copies to date and he remains, along with his contemporary and late friend Luciano Pavarotti, one of the most well-known names in classical Italian music today.
Football fans will have heard him serenading Leicester FC at King Power Stadium, after they won the Premier League champions in May this year.
This Brooklyn, New York-based composer is making all the right sounds (excuse the pun) right now. Founder and keyboardist for Victoire, an electro-acoustic band which performs her compositions, Mazzoli has been described by The New York Times as one of the “more consistently inventive and surprising composers now working in New York,” and by Time Out New York as “Brooklyn’s post-millennial Mozart”. Her next project, Breaking the Waves, a chamber opera based on Lars Von Triers’ 1996 film, will premier this month. It’s also part of the Guggenheim Museum’s Works & Process series, and will be presented alongside work by Pharrell Williams.
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