By Samir Shukla
Indian Classical Interactions
The sitar evokes tradition and timelessness. The instrument also lends itself to conversations with other musical expressions of the world.
Baluji Shrivastav is a multi-instrumentalist, composer and sitar player guiding the instrument's familiar drone into innovative and evolved musical territories. He loosens boundaries to expand the possibilities of Indian classical music with original compositions.
The opening track from his new recording Indian Classical Interactions is “A Dream of Andalucia," which weaves Indian melodies and Spanish flamenco guitar, featuring Shrivastav and Ignacio Monteverde on their respective instruments. It's a perfect example of Indian classical music and the sitar's innate openness to melting musical borders.
The track “Antardrishti - Inner Vision" is based on Chapter 11 of the Bhagavad Gita and features the Inner Vision Orchestra, the UK's only ensemble of professional blind musicians. It is presented in nine segments, each with its own story and aura. Each track stands its ground individually, but when played in sequence is nothing short of revelatory.
“Sohini's Aria" is a mini-opera sung in Urdu. It features Baluji on the instruments dilruba and tanpura accompanied by Linda Shanson's vocals.
The recording's final track “Sitar Guitar Suites" is presented in three parts and the performance features Indonesian musician Boo Boo Sianturi. It evokes musical travels between India and Indonesia, where both countries share a connected past while gazing at a bright future. The interaction between sitar and guitar sounds so natural.
Shrivastav, blind since early childhood, creates compositions that are poetic and inviting. Born in Uttar Pradesh, Shrivastav undertook his first musical training on sitar, dilruba, surbahar, pakhavaj and tabla at Ajmer's Blind School.
He has released several recordings. His compositions have been featured in a wide range of films, theater and television. Find this recording on CD or on a streaming service.