Britain has a rich decades-long history of classical musical maestros delivering mesmerising performances for multicultural audiences at prestigious venues.

A standout performance this month sees award-winning Hindustani vocalist Pandit Sanjeev Abhyankar headline a classical concert at the Southbank Centre’s Purcell Room in London.
He hails from the Mewati Gharana and has performed in over 200 cities around the world. The naturally-gifted vocalist has been surrounded by classical music since childhood and has had a prolific career. This particular performance is a part of the Monsoon Raga Festival and sees him offer his rich repertoire of music.

Eastern Eye caught up with Pandit Sanjeev Abhyankar to talk about his amazing journey in music, the UK concert and inspirations.

What first connected you to classical music?
My mother was a musician. She had a doctorate in music and was my first guru (teacher). I used to listen to her practise and that led me to learn from her since I was eight years old.

How would you describe your journey in music?
I am a child prodigy who gave his first professional stage performance at the age of 12. During that time, many legendary artists from my field advised my parents to put me in a full-time career in classical music. I was very fortunate to be accepted as a disciple by none other than the legendary Pandit Jasraj ji with a condition that I take this up as a full-time career. So, I have been breathing classical music for the past 40 years. I have performed in over 200 different cities around the world and classical music lovers worldwide adore my singing. What more can I expect or ask for?

How much does live performance mean to you?
It means everything to me. Classical vocal is like a waterfall in full flow and not a lake with still water. Live concerts bring the best out of me and keep my art in a continuous evolutionary mode. Not making it stagnant.

What has been your most memorable concert?
For me, every concert is a different experience. I try not to remember what I have sung in the past when I am on stage. This maintains the freshness in my presentation. I look at each and every concert of mine as if it were my first stage presentation and approach it with the highest dedication. Because of this approach, every concert brings me to something new.

What can we expect from your concert at Southbank Centre next Wednesday (17)?
We have monsoon melodies or ragas and many compositions expressing different moods associated with the rainy season. I will be presenting multiple compositions with various moods – be it longing, love and romance, the thunder of the monsoon or the pure joy it brings with it.

Tell us about some of the pieces you will perform?
Raga Megh, Miyan Malhar, Ramdasi Malhar, Shyam Kalyan, Jayant Malhar and more.

Today, what inspires you?
My live concerts inspire me. The audiences have been listening to me for over three decades now. It is a challenge for me to keep them glued to my art. This gives me immense mental stimulation and keeps me on my toes all the time. Therefore, I look forward to my live concerts.

What kind of music do you enjoy listening to?
Apart from Indian classical music, I also listen to
old Hindi film music and a little bit of everything, including western classical. I also like western solo piano concerts.

What is your greatest unfulfilled musical ambition?
I think I have achieved everything that I would have liked to, at the age of 50. There are many more years ahead for me to travel on the path of excellence and search for creative expression. This path is endless, so I think a lot has been achieved and a lot remains.

Why do you love music?
Music gives me happiness, creative satisfaction and fulfilment. The best part is the joy I derive from it and being able to pass that on to my listeners as well.

Why should we come to your concert?
Many people have given me feedback over the years that some like the sweetness and divinity of my voice, some like the crispness in my presentation, some like my skill to take the concert to the climax slowly and steadily, some like my smile. I think one should come to my concert to take the joy home, which will remain with them for a long time, as much as it remains with me.