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Could have dissected frogs, defended criminals but found destiny in music: Padma Vibhushan Prabha Atre

New Delhi, Jan 26 (PTI) She had no musical background, doesn’t follow tradition blindly and has graduate degrees in law and the sciences. Defying stereotype and definition, Hindustani vocalist Dr Prabha Atre carved out a destiny all her own and says quite simply that singing was better than dissecting frogs or defending criminals.

The 89-year-old renowned artiste was on Tuesday awarded the Padma Vibhushan, the nation’s second highest civilian honour. It’s the third in the series, following the Padma Shri in 1990 and the Padma Bhushan in 2002.

“I am different so my singing is also different. I am a law and science graduate and I think differently. I keep my eyes open. I don’t just follow anything in the name of tradition,” the irrepressible Atre told PTI in a phone interview from Pune.

“I have done it in my style and sometimes had to fight for that,” added the classical musician with a difference, her story unlike many others who followed their craft and passion from when they were children and swear by tradition.

Atre is equally candid about her happiness in accepting the award “I should be happy with my music whether I get awards or not. But this award is the second highest civilian award and it makes me very happy and proud. I chose a unique path in my field and the audience appreciated it and continued supporting me.”  An internationally renowned Hindustani classical music vocalist from the Kirana Gharana, ‘Swaryogini’ Atre said she wants to work till her last breath to fulfill her dream to find a wider audience for classical music.

“I want to sing till the last breath but I also want to keep working in other aspects of music. I want to take classical music to the masses, to make it popular and to make it easy to learn. Until that happens, classical music will not survive.” Recalling her growing up years, Atre, who has a bachelor of science degree from Ferguson College in Pune and one from the Law College in the university there, said music was not a priority and was in fact just a matter of chance.

“I was studying science and then law and never thought in my wildest dream that I would be a musician. My parents were into academics and in fact my mother’s illness brought music to our house. She used to learn the harmonium and I used to sit beside her. She left music but I continued,” Atre said.

“I think I was destined to be a musician. People started liking my music and I was getting remuneration for it. I think temperamentally I was most suited to music,” she added.

It has been a long and challenging journey. Besides being an accomplished performer, she has also excelled as a thinker, researcher, academician, reformer, author, composer and guru.

Atre also advocates changes in the education system so classical music can widen its reach.

“Everyone has to work for it right from the listeners to musicians and at the government level. Our education system has to be changed and there has to be compulsory education for music which is lacking. Listeners also have to put in some work to understand classical music,” she said about her ideas to popularise classical music in India.

Atre has also been a pioneer in popularising Indian classical music in the west, giving her first performance in 1969.

“They like our music very much and they are very good listeners . They don’t move or talk in the middle of any performance unlike here in India,” she said.

  Atre has established the “Swarmayee Gurukul” to teach students all over the world in both the traditions – ‘guru-shishya parampara’ and institutional.

“It is important to bridge the gap between these two systems. In the ‘guru-shishya’ tradition, the focus is on the performance aspect only. I feel that it should be all round education. I should know why I am singing this way rather than copying someone,” she said.

Atre has displayed constant innovation and creative endeavour in treatment, design and presentation of the musical material. Whether ‘khyaal’, ‘tarana’, ‘thumri’, ‘dadra’, ‘ghazal’, or ‘bhajan’, her sincerity to her art and sensitivity to the times clearly surface in her thinking and her singing.

Despite achieving many milestones in her musical journey, she is not content and strives for more.

“As a ‘sadhak’, I am not satisfied because the learning never ends. But if you talk as a professional musician, the journey has been quite good. I have performed this month twice at the age of 89 and have another performance on February 6. It is a big thing at this age.” said Atre.

She said she is impressed with the current talent in Indian music and follows their work too.

“I like to listen to everything from film music to light music, ghazals , fusion, everything. I don’t remember names. There are many talented artistes. Talent is there but they only need seriousness and commitment. I am happy to see good work in the field of music,” she said. PTI MJ Renowned Hindustani vocalist Dr Prabha Atre defied stereotype to carve out a destiny all her own in music, saying quite simply that singing was better than dissecting frogs or defending criminals.

moving w Defying stereotype or definition, legendary Hindustani vocalist Dr Prabha Atre says she With graduate degrees in law and in the sciences, she should have been more comfortable dissecting frogs or defending criminals perhaps but renowned Hindustani vocalist Prabha Atre defied both stereotype and definition when she found her calling in music.


This report is auto-generated from PTI news service. ThePrint holds no responsibility for its content.

Source: The Print

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