Our Mentors 2016-12-11T23:26:20+00:00

An Introduction to the Lahiri Family

By Jay Gandhi
(A promising disciple of Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia)

It is difficult to express in words how fortunate we all are to be so closely connected with the Lahiri Family. They are truly the heart and soul of Shruti. With their selfless efforts and the help of a truly dedicated team of students and music lovers, this organization is truly progressing towards reaching the finer note.

The brother and sister trio, Pulak Lahiri, Sangeeta Lahiri and Shankhachur Lahiri, grew up in an environment imbued with classical music. Their late father Shri Rabindranath Lahiri, a prominent disciple of Ustad Dabir Khansaheb, was one of the great sitar players and gurus of West Bengal. A court musician under the patronage of Maharaj Jivan Lal Maliya of the Raniganj Rajbari, he had himself selflessly dedicated his life to imparting music to countless students in the guru-shishya tradition. Today in Raniganj, it would not be wrong to say that the fact that there is music in almost every household is in a large part due to his noble efforts. Indeed, his own wife, Smt. Pratima Lahiri, was one his most devoted students. Today she remains a pillar of love and support for all of the work of her three children, so that they might continue to carry on their father’s great legacy.

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The eldest of this trio, Shri Pulak Lahiri, is Shruti’s founder, chief mentor and the Principle of the Shruti School of Music. At first glance, one might notice his unassuming and soft spoken manner, yet when one hears his sitar, one can truly appreciate the great richness and depth of his musical understanding and when one sees the heights that Shruti has reached one can appreciate the grandness of his creative vision.

Pulakji (or Pulak dada as we lovingly call him) received his initial and most intensive training in both vocal and sitar from his father and later continued under his father’s senior most Guru bhai, Pt Santosh Banerjee. To deepen his grasp of the Gayaki Ang (vocal style), he then took the guidance of the great stalwart of the Rampur Saheswan Gharana, Ustad Ghulam Akbar Khansaheb. Since coming to Mumbai some years ago, he has been under the adept guidance of Pt. Arvind Parekh, senior disciple of Ustad Vilayat Khansaheb. As a result of his extensive talim and own musical research, Pulak dada’s musical approach reflects an extraordinarily fine balance between the tantrakari (instrumental) and gayaki ang. As a performer he has graced the stage at countless prestigious venues in India and abroad.

Full of dedication, Pulak Dada’s efforts have brought Shruti to higher and higher levels. This organization could not be where it is today without him. We are truly fortunate to have such a wonderful person in our midst.

Next we come to Sangeeta Lahiri. She is without question one of the leading young classical vocalists of today. An extraordinary performer and brilliant guru, she possesses an effortless command of khayal and a rare gift for thumri, dadra and ghazal. She is blessed with a subtle and powerful voice capable of effortlessly rendering all of the taans, gamaks, alap, and laykari (rhythmic play) essential for a full melodic exposition. Ras (mood & emotional essence), bhaav (sentiment), and the proper presentation of traditional bandishes (compositions) are all prominently emphasized in her aesthetic approach.

Sangeeta LahiriSangeeta didi was initiated into the intricacies of Hindustani classical Music at the age of three by her father. Since then, she has undergone advanced training under Pt.Chinmoy Lahiri and later, for an extended and intensive period, under the highly esteemed Ustad Ghulam Akbar Khan of the Rampur Saheswan Gharana. Her singing abilities were further honed under the tutelage of the traditional thumri exponent Smt. Brijbala Devi of Muzaffarpur. In addition, her associations with great maestros like Pt. Yashwantbua Joshi, Pt. Mukul Shivputra and Pt. Nayan Ghosh, have all been extremely fruitful in helping her to develop a distinctive perspective of raag and taal.

Sangeetaji has performed across India, gracing the stage at such prominent venues as the Doverlane Music Conference (Kolkata), Nazrul Manch (Kolkata), the Gandhi Maidan Thumri Festival (Patna), Sur Sringar Samsad (Mumbai), Shruti Festival 2008, Gangubai Hangal Foundation (Hubli), Sitar Ratna Rahmat Khan Utsav (Dharwad), the National Festival of Music & Dance (Kerala), and many others. A graded artist for All India Radio, she has recorded for many major projects such as the world music album “Mysterious Awakening,” (HMV Sa Re Ga Ma) and more recently for the 2009 popular album “SaReGaNa,” in a piece composed, arranged and directed by her brilliant husband Debasish Bhattacharjee – one of the rising music directors in Mumbai today.

As a Guru as well, Sangeeta didi is blessed with a musical maturity far beyond her years. She has already become a sought after Guru by many established professional musicians seeking to solidify their musical foundation and expand their knowledge. For me personally, knowing her has been a great blessing and her guidance over the years has helped me so much to broaden my musical understanding. For that I am eternally grateful to her. She is a great inspiration to us all and we are truly blessed to have her among us.

Shankh LahiriLast but not least, we come to Shankhachur Lahiri. Shankh has been a great and close friend to me and it has truly been a joy to work with him over the years. His sensitive yet powerful tabla playing reflects his family’s rich musical heritage and he has been a sensation where ever we have performed together. Some especially memorable concerts have been at the Petrochem in Dubai, the Learn Quest Music Festival (Boston, USA), the Albany Hindu Temple (New York, USA), and at the Pt. Jasraj School of Music in Tampa, Florida (USA).

Professionally, Shankh has already gained a reputation as a very creative and innovative concert performer in both the Classical and Experimental New Age music genres. He has accompanied and toured with many reputed and front ranking classical artists such as Pandit Jasraj, Pt. Mukul Shivputra, Pt. Nayan Ghosh, Vidushi Purnima Chaudhuri, Dr. Shobha Joshi, Tulika Ghosh, Rattan Mohan Sharma, his own elder brother and sister, and many others. In the field of New Age and Experimental Fusion music, Shankh has performed with many reputed musicians from abroad. In 2009 his performances at the WMNF World Fusion Festival in Florida (USA) and at Chicago Jazz Festival (USA) met with great critical acclaim.

Yet with all of his forays into experimental music, Shankh remains firmly rooted in tradition. He draws his greatest inspiration from the classical music legends of past and present. Ustad Ahmedjan Thirakwa, Ustad Amir Hussain Khan, Pandit Anokhelal Mishra and his respected Guruji, Pandit Nayan Ghosh, all hold a primary place in his heart and serve as a guide for him in his musical endeavors.

In all of Shankh’s activities, his enthusiasm has truly been remarkable. For Shruti, Shankh has held a key role from its very inception.Presently, Shankh shares his knowledge with many eager students as a regular faculty member at the Pandit Jasraj School of Music in Tampa, Florida (USA).

So here is a small introduction to the Lahiri family, the heart and soul of Shruti. May this wonderful organization always continue to strive for the finer note.