Sound of Saskia

The mind is like a parachute.

Written by Jaskiran Kapoor | Published: March 28, 2012 2:33:30 am

The mind is like a parachute. It only works when open and Delhi-based cellist Saskia Rao de-Haas feels that is the only requirement for understanding and appreciating classical music. “Indian classical music is not for entertainment alone. To experience it,you need to connect with it intellectually,

spiritually and emotionally. The levels of involvement are thus far greater and deeper,” says Saskia,adding how one can’t be passive to this music.

In town for a festival of classical music organised by SPIC MACAY at PEC Auditorium,Saskia’s idea of a perfect concert is playing to a small gathering and that too in acoustic sound. “Although a bigger concert translates into bigger reach,it also means amplification,which somewhere distorts the sound,” says she.

It was Pandit Hari Prasad Chaurasia who taught Saskia the importance of style and content of music. “More than your own style,one has to create a style for the instrument you play and that can only happen once you’ve mastered the technique,” says she. What follows is feeling and improvisation. It has taken Saskia 12 years to improvise on the cello and create a new instrument,the only kind in the world — one which combines Indian and western classical sensibilities and sounds. “It took many experiments,for I wanted the resonating effect of the sarangi in the cello,” says Saskia.

Netherlands-based Eduard Van Tongeren,who made Saskia’s first cello when she was seven,worked on the new and improved version for 12 years before giving it a final yes. “It just feels right now,” says Saskia,who has been living in Delhi for the last 12 years. In fact,it was her fascination for Indian classical music — being played at her university in Holland — that brought her to India to learn more about it and adapt it to the cello. A lot of credit for developing her Indian style and instrument goes to her husband,sitarist Shubendra Rao. “It was the love for music that got us together and we share an artistic temperament,although his is a more calming one,” says she. Together,they’ve composed music for concerts,films,documentaries,theatre and are also releasing an album called Yathra — The Journey,an introspective raaga-based piece with the sitar and cello. Saskia’s solo album will also release on the internet in May. Titled The Indian Cello,it is a pure classical composition. In addition,there are concerts across the world. Always on the move,Saskia defines herself as the working mother who,between a concert at Kennedy Centre in Washington USA,finds time to take her seven-year-old son Ishaan to museums and amusement parks. “Well,you just have to make arrangements like everyone,” says Saskia. As for Ishaan,he’s already chosen his instrument — the piano. “He can’t escape music now,” says Saskia,grooming the next generation.

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