Santoor Maestro

Ravi Rohmetra
Jammu well known as City of Temples has given birth to many towering personalities. One amongst them is renowned santoor Maestro Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma.
Pt. Shiv Kumar Sharma was born on 13th January, 1938 in Jammu. He was introduced to the Santoor by his father and teacher, Pandit Uma Dutt Sharma. He was a renowned player of the instrument and also vocalist. He was a disciple of Pandit Bade Ramdas Ji of Banaras. Pt. Shiv Kumar Sharma learnt the tabla and also vocal singing before dedicating himself to learn the Santoor extensively.
The Santoor was known as the Shata-Tantri Veena in earlier days. It was used to accompany a particular type of singing known as Sufiana Mausiqi. Pandit Uma Dutt Sharma gave the responsibility of taking the Santoor on the world stage to his son Pt. Shiv Kumar Sharma. Shiv Kumar Sharma has truly been successful in giving the Santoor the position of a popular classical instrument. Sharma modified the folk instrument in order to make it more suitable for classical music.
He increased its range to full three octaves and also created a technique for smoother gliding between music notes in order to imitate human voice quality. Shiv Kumar Sharma also created a new way of playing it so that the notes and sound continuity could be maintained for a long time. Shiv Kumar Sharma has collaborated with many musicians like Zakir Hussain and Hariprasad Chaurasiya. He also composed music for Hindi films like”Lamhe”,”Daar”, “Silsila”, etc. Some of his famous albums are Call of the Valley, Sampradaya, elements; water, Music of the Mountains, Megh Malhar, etc. His son Rahul is also a famous Santoor Player. Shiv Kumar Sharma is the recipient of many prestigious awards like “Padma Shree”, “Padma Vibhushan”, “Sangeet Natak Academy Award”.
Honorary Doctorate from the University of Jammu. “Ustad Hafiz Ali Khan Award”,”Maharashtra Gaurav Puraskar”, etc. He also has an honorary citizenship of the city of Baltimore, USA. This flawless musician truly deserves these honors and more. After extensive research on the instrument Pandit Uma Dutt bestowed the responsibility of establishing it on the concert platform on his only son Shiv Kumar. The rest, as they say, is history, however, the road to success was far from smooth. After several radio broadcasts and performances he appeared for his national level concert in Mumbai in 1955. This was a turning point in his life where he received applause as well as was severely criticized by the orthodox sections of musicians and listeners. Today Santoor is at par with any classical instrument, well established not just all over India, but across the globe with his creative genius. Pt. Shiv Kumar Sharma has created a new genre of instrumental music.
Through his performance career of over a half century, he has created a new technique of playing with which he could sustain notes and maintain sound continuity. He believes in the immortality of this great heritage of Indians classical music and wishes to leave no stone unturned to make it so. With this aim in mind, he has been imparting this knowledge to the next generation of musicians. So deep in his conviction that despite no institutional or government support, he has been teaching in the Guru Shishya tradition, without charging a fee from his students, who come to him from all the corners of India as well as different parts of the world like Japan, Australia, America and Germany.
Music, he believes, is food for the soul. Naturally, his music is meditative and soothing at the same time. His immense faith in the ancient wisdom of Vedanta has resulted in creation of music for Shlokas from the Upanishads and a new raag called Antardhwani.