It wasn’t difficult to understand why the crowd erupted in applause during the Tedx Talk held at an engineering college in Bengaluru. A young musician had explained to them what ragas are and the importance of a pause before proceeding to show them what he meant- he played Arijit Singh's super-hit “Tum Hi Ho” combined with Mozart's Symphony Number 40 with a hint of Thyagaraja and Muthuswami Dikshitar.
In an age when everyone is looking for ‘authentic’ and ‘pure’ versions of everything, Aneesh Vidyashankar are showing the world just how beautiful fusions are. Trained in Carnatic music, the 24-year-old violinist has been enthralling audiences with his music for 18 years.
Aneesh performing for Chief Minister Siddaramaiah (left); the violinst also recently performed at a celebration during actor Sudeep's birthday
Born and brought up in Bengaluru, Aneesh owes his passion for music to his parents. Aneesh's mother is a singer, and his father is a violinist and a finance professional. It was his father who trained him in the Lalgudi Jayaraman style of playing the violin.
“When I was small, I used to hold the violin and shout 'happy', 'happy'. That is when my father decided to teach me how to play one,” Aneesh says. He started learning music at the age of three and gave his first solo performance when he was six. There's been no looking back.
Today, Aneesh is has a busy schedule of public, private and corporate events performances and takes pride in creating a niche which he says has hardly been explored in the country.
His schooling also contributed to shaping the course of his life. "In school, we were not taught to compete but to be the best in whatever we do," he says.
His best, has taken him and his band AVID to over 23 countries. “My USP lies in merging different genres. Like blending Carnatic and Hindustani music with Beethoven, Bach, Mozart and even pop, rock, jazz, Bollywood, Arabic and Sufi music," Aneesh explains, adding that presenting the fusion in a structured manner to his audience worked in his favour.
This structure comes with discipline, and his need for perfection in performances. “I need to be satisfied with my music. Only then can I be sure that the audience liked it too.”
His habit of walking around while performing to connect with the crowd has earned him the name Wireless Walking Violinist.
Aneesh with members of his band AVID
This commitment to music has landed many awards, including a National Award from All India Radio.
"I was once performing in Vizag at a meditation meet. 35,000 people were meditating to my music. Some had tears in their eyes. It was very touching,” he says.
At another concert I was performing in the US for a crowd of 2,000. The response from non-Indians to my performance was overwhelming."
But while fusion is what he specializes in now, his heart lies with Carnatic music in its purest form. "Music has become extremely diluted now. But unfortunately that is what people want," he says. "But luckily for me, I like playing what my audience wants to listen."
The violin prodigy harbours another passion – of becoming a successful architect. Having graduated from RV School of Architecture last year, Aneesh plans to start his company soon. Though people have often judged his decision to juggle both his passions, Aneesh is quite confident that he'll be able to make a mark in both the professions.
All photographs source: Aneesh Vidyashankar/Facebook