Please tell us about yourself

Alumnus-turned-guitar faculty member at the Bangalore School of Music, nineteen year old Nandini Sudhir is undoubtedly a classical guitarist to watch out for. Currently pursuing her Bachelors Programme in Psychology, Economics and Sociology at Mount Carmel College, Nandini’s greatest love is the guitar and has dedicated her life to it, as she gears up to join a music conservatory and qualify to become a professional concert guitarist. Nandini recently won the Nordhorn Guitar Festival and Competition held in Germany and even had a piece specially composed and dedicated to her by Netherlands’ most famous composer and classical guitarist, Annette Kruisbrink, whom she now trains under. Back in Bangalore and our music school, we at the BSM recently caught up with Nandini for an exclusive tete-a-tete with the ‘girl-with-the-golden-fingers’. Excerpts from the interview…………

BSM: Congratulations on all the awards and accolades that have been coming your way. Tell us what led you to such an offbeat, unconventional and unique career?

Nandini: I studied at Saint Francis Xavier School where a lot of importance and encouragement was given to music. My music teachers were passionate about music and that rubbed on to us as well. In addition, my father played the acoustic guitar when he was a young man and would tell me stories about his guitar-playing days, explain to me all about the instrument, which naturally led me to want to follow in my father’s footsteps and so at the age of nine, in 2007, I decided to enroll for guitar classes at The Bangalore School of Music and since then there has been no looking back. I was blessed to have the most wonderful teacher, Dinesh Khundrakpam and of course, Mrs Sunderlal, who gave me numerous opportunities to grow and learn, such that the guitar gradually grew on me and before I knew it, I had completely fallen in love with the instrument.

BSM: Tell us about the numerous awards and accolades you have won.

Nandini: With the encouragement of my guitar teacher here at the Bangalore School of Music, in 2011, I went to Kolkata for my first ever classical guitar festival. It was organized by Mr Avik Saha, founder of the Calcutta Classical Guitar Society, with the aim of spreading classical guitar in India. As such, he had invited guitarists from around the world, many of whom are considered ‘names to reckon with’ in the world of classical guitar. These musicians literally opened up the world of guitar for us as until then, our exposure to the instrument was limited. Their patience with youngsters like us, dedication to their craft, knowledge and technique which they gladly shared with us through masterclasses, all helped me win the national-level classical guitar competition in 2012 organized by the Indian Classical Guitar Society. One of the prizes was to qualify to participate in an international level classical guitar competition held the same year in Thailand. After that, I won the ‘Most Promising Guitarist’ in the under-18 category and then every year since 2013, I have been going to Germany to participate in the Nordhorn Guitar Festival and Competition. I also secured first place in the Twents Guitar Festival and Competition, Netherlands, one of my most memorable achievements.

BSM: Tell us about the piece you performed this year and about the festival as such.

Nandini: I performed two pieces; one was a romantic piece from the 19th century, ‘Capriccio’ by Hungarian composer Johann Kaspar Mertz. The other was ‘Tiento Antiguo’ by modern Spanish composer, Joaquin Rodrigo. Though the piece is modern, it has a very renaissance sound and feel to it. Nordhorn Guitar Festival and Competition is run by recorder-guitar duo, the ‘Duo NIHZ’. What is amazing about this festival is that though it has the support and participation of guitarists from all over Europe, Asia and nearly every country, none of them come for commercial purposes, only for the love of music and the guitar. Legends in the world of guitar come to this festival to share their passion for the instrument, knowledge; both theory and practical and even invite young classical guitar enthusiasts to participate in other similar classical guitar festivals, The feel of the whole festival is like one big family; there are no distinctions on the basis of country, background etc. We all sit and share our meals around a common dining table. The whole atmosphere is one of brotherhood and love for music.

BSM: What do you see as the scope for professional guitar artistes today?

Nandini: Oh there is certainly a huge scope if one wants to pursue classical guitar as a career. When I started out ten years ago, the classical guitar circle was very small; everyone knew everybody else. Today, the number of people coming forward to learn the guitar is huge, as even non-musicians see in the guitar, the capacity to make music more colourful through its sheer expressiveness and range. People hearing the classical guitar for the first time are always curious to know more about the instrument. More and more youngsters are coming forward expressing their desire to become professional concert musicians. I firmly believe that it will be just a few years before the classical guitar is regarded as a concert instrument. The Calcutta Classical Guitar Society, Indian Guitar Federation etc are all doing much to spread awareness and interest in the classical guitar.

PGS – How do you look at your journey with classical guitar going forward?

Nandini Sudhir – Definitely i want to pursue music as my career and profession. Currently i am completing my bachelors in Psychology, Economics and Sociology in Bangalore. After this, i hope to join a conservatory in Europe and pursue my music studies there. Maybe do a bachelors degree in music performance…i really want to use music to help people and reach out to people. I might consider music therapy for this..I will be completing my degree in psychology next year…but music performance is my main passion.

PGS – Would you like to share some thoughts for players and students of your age or younger?

Nandini Sudhir – You should never be discouraged by what you might consider ‘failures’…everyone has their share of good and bad performances. But i think its important not to get disheartened if you make mistakes and it’s also important not to get too proud either. Its very important to stay humble…I think every young guitarist should keep in mind that patience and commitment is required.