While Tuladhar’s name might not ring a bell for most Nepalis, he’s booked every year to perform at venues across Europe
As son of famed sitarist Tara Bir Singh Tuladhar, Satendra Man Singh grew up surrounded by music. His early lessons included sitting in on practice sessions and imitating members of Sur Sudha, his father’s band.
By the time he turned 13, Satendra was already taking over his father’s classes, teaching the basics of the stringed instrument to students twice his age.
“Even though I knew how to play the sitar, I didn’t really know the meaning of music back then,” says Satendra who has studied tabla under German musician Gert Wagner, who is now the head of Department of Music at Kathmandu University.
Although Satendra was already gaining name as a sitar prodigy, he was unsure of his skills and wanted to study further. At 24, he enrolled in Prayag Sangeet Samiti in Allahabad, India, graduating with a Master’s in sitar.
“It was only after graduation that I began to take my music seriously,” says Satendra. For years he practiced 12 hours a day, turning to other musicians for inspiration.
Though the practice hours have now been reduced to seven, Tuladhar has stuck to his ritual of playing sitar in front of a mirror. “It helps me notice my flaws, correct my posture and concentration which all goes towards creating the right stage presence,” he explains.
The sitarist, now 44, acknowledges that classical musicians of Nepal still struggle to find audience and receive payment. “Compared to our devotion and the time we spend on our music, the payment is minimal,” he says. He also feels disheartened by the lack of interest among Nepali people in classical music.
It is ironic that while Tuladhar’s name might not ring a bell for most Nepalis, he’s booked every year to perform at venues across Europe, where he also conducts classical music workshops.
Tuladhar believes classical music can still regain its prestige in Nepal. “I think children should be initiated into classical music at school, so it will have a better interest in the general public later,” he says.
He is happy that his two children, 17-year-old son and 13-year-old daughter showed an inclination towards music from an early age. “They both play sitar and tabla, and my son is becoming really good at the guitar too,” he says.
Last summer Tuladhar played at ten different venues in Europe and is now working on new compositions for his tour next year. He is also looking forward to new musical projects.
“I would like to try to mix Arabic and Spanish sounds in my own music,” he says.
Tuladhar’s dream project is to perform across countries as father and son, but says that may have to wait until his own son finishes school. And that would make three generations of classical musicians performing together.
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