|Shanti Rao performing at the Indian fine arts society in 2004.
Rao of Bangalore, is a vibrant veena artist both at home and abroad as seen from the numerous eulogistic media reports.
Her performances have been praised not only for pure classicism and virtuosity of play but also for aesthetic and captivating
rendition of raga, kriti and swara. Given below is a short introduction to the beginnings of her successful career.
Rao began her long and successful musical voyage at a tender age of 12. She learnt vocal
music from T. A Venkataramayyar, and veena from Harihara Ayyar
in Madras. In 1969, on moving to Bombay,
her ears fell on the sounds of the veena being played by none other than veena maestro Chitti Babu who was later to become
her guru. “I had never heard the veena being played that way”. That turned her from being a passive listener to
an avid player” She began studying the veena under the tutelage of Chitti Babu.
On moving to Bangalore in 1973, she commuted to Madras
for veena lessons with Chitti Babu, while also learning vocal from R.K Srikantan and veena from R.K
Suryanarayan and Pallavi Chandrappa
in Bangalore. In 1976, she made her solo veena debut at the Ramanavmi celebrations
in Chamrajpet. Since then, there has been no looking back for this vibrant veena player. Vidhushi
Shanti Rao has mastered the art of traditional and contemporary
styles of the veena.
Shanti Rao toured around the world winning the hearts of both Indians abroad
and people unfamiliar with Indian classical music and/or the divine instrument. Having toured Singapore,
U.K, Germany and the U.S.A several times, she has become a
popular ambassador to her country, having performed at important functions and centers. She has had the privilege of performing
before Queen Elizabeth II.
|Shanti performing for CAMAGA, Atlanta GA (2004)
On her tour of the U.S, she performed in 30 cities and was repeatedly invited
to perform in U.K for three consecutive years where she enthralled audiences with her rhythm and electrifying fast paced hand
work. On another tour, she visited Cornwall,
a small town in U.K. She recollects that the town was so small,
she had her doubts whether the crowd would appreciate/ understand the intricacies of her music. That night, she received three
standing ovations and is still talked about in the village some three years later. She
fondly remembers the constable on her beat applauding her on the streets for “a very nice concert ma’am.”
Perfomances at home
Back at home, Shanti Rao has performed in the most prestigious sabha’s having received
praise, accolades and innumerable media reports (read “Press releases”).
From having bagged the prestigious Madras Academy award as early as 1980
for “Best debutante” to the “Best veena player” in 1996 from the Indian Fine Arts Society, Shanti Rao remains dedicated to the veena’s
traditional form and style.
|Thyagaraja Aradhana ,Tiruvaiyaru (2003)
|The Pulse team: eclectic music
|Shanti Rao and Siva Mani
Blending the old with the new
Leaving no stone unturned, Shanthi Rao effortlessly
blended the old with the new and the East with the West. Although very loyal to the traditional style of the veena, she has
innovated on the veena’s contemporary styles to perform fusion styles with some renowned artistes such as percussionist
Trilok Gurtu of Germany, the ace pianist Mervyn of U.K, Guitarist Jery Demos of Germany and the popular percussionist Siva
Mani, having performed in various shows from Jazz Yatra festival in Bangalore to UK and Germany. Shanti
Rao played the Veena for musical directors Hamsalekha and R.N
Nagendra for which she changed her instrument incorporating a blend of Mysore
and Tanjore styles.
Shanti remains dedicated to the traditional form of veena which she has innovated to keep with the changing times.
Her innovation; “the double string veena” (read “The double string veena”) received acknowledgments
for its wonderful tonal quality. Having received praise from greats like Kunnakudi
Vaidyanathan, Balamurali Krishna, this vibrant veena player has 7 albums and 2 fusion music
albums under her belt.
Vidhushi Shanti Rao is a visiting
professor of Music at Bangalore University.
She also teaches music at her very own school “Veena Vani school of music” Indiranagar, Bangalore.
Shanti has an attitude that is raring to go to create that extra “special” that would strike a rhythm with the