Classical music is designed for the soul, says the teacher-artiste
Radhey Shyam Gupta from Melbourne was awarded the Order of Australia Medal for service to the arts through classical Indian music on 26 January this year.
Radhey Shyam completed the Sangeet Visharad (graduation in music) from Gandharva Mahavidyalaya in Mumbai in 1966 under the guidance of Guru Pt. Raghunath Talegaonkar at Agra. He then joined IIT Delhi, where he completed his degree in Textile Technology. While at IIT, he pursued his learning of the sitar from renowned Indian radio artist Anil Dhar at the Gandharva Mahavidyalaya in Delhi.
He is currently learning from Pt. Debi Prasad Chatterjee, prime disciple of stalwarts of Senia Mehar Gharana Pt. Nikhil Banerjee, Ustad Ali Akbar Khan and Annapurna ji, all disciples of the legendary Ustad Allauddin Khan.
In 1991, Radhey Shyam migrated to Australia and went for work to Albury and Geelong. When he settled down in Melbourne in 1996, he realized there were no institutions that taught Indian culture, music, arts and language there, and so with the help of like-minded music lovers and supportive friends he started classes in sitar, vocals, harmonium, Hindi and kathak dance in a local school under a newly formed not-for-profit organisation Sharda Kala Kendra.
Around the same time he also started the Sangeet Sandhya, a welcoming forum for music lovers, which is now completing its 17th successful year. The Sandhya provides a free forum for amateurs and professionals to display their musical talent. The Sangeet Sandhya has since branched out to also offer Sahitya Sandhya (literature and poetry), Raag Rung (pure classical Hindustani music) and Swar Sandhya (karaoke-based singing).
In 1997, Radhey Shyam joined RMIT to do a diploma and then Masters in IT. According to Radhey Shyam, who incidentally still works as an IT consultant, music is a way to reduce stress and attain peace and salvation. “Pop music affects the body, light music (including ghazals) pleases the heart. Classical music is designed for the soul and takes us very deep,” says Radhey Shyam.
In January 2013, Radhey Shyam was also awarded the Multicultural Award for Excellence by the Victorian Government for contribution to the community through the arts. He is currently involved in spreading musical education to the whole world at no cost, through his website www.sharda.org. Thousands of students around the world have access to printable notations and video lessons of the sitar, DVDs of vocals, sitar, bhajans and ghazals through this website. Radhey Shyam has been spending considerable time and effort in recording hundreds of videos where he teaches various musical instruments, making it easier for beginners to have a thorough understanding of Indian music and its instruments.
Steeped in classicism and yet willing to explore the new without compromising on tradition, Radhey Shyam has illumined the local music scene for decades. He is supported by his wife Anita and daughters Kokil and Vidushi, who are ‘absolutely thrilled’ with their dad’s achievements.
Published in The Indian Sun (Indian Australian Magazine)