Pandit Sopori honured with Sangeet Vibhuti



Pandit Bhajan Sopori, leading music composer and legendary santoor maestro, has been honoured the prestigious lifetime achievement award ‘Sangeet Vibhuti’ for his contribution to the world of Art and Culture.  Born in Kashmir in a family of musicians, the santoor maestro has been the pioneer in establishing the Santoor on National and International platforms. In his five decades of work, Bhajan Sopori has explored various dimensions of the Santoor, carrying out many path-breaking innovations for which he is hailed as the ‘Saint of Santoor’ and the ‘King of Strings’.


Pandit Sopori is the only classical musician to have composed music for almost 5000 songs. He has also received numerous awards including the Padma Shri, Sangeet Natak Academy Award, Delhi Ratan Award, Delhi Telugu Academy Award, Akashwani Annual Awards, Shiromani Award, Beenkar Samman, Punjab Sakha Award, Shardha Samman, Kala Yogi Award, Abhinav Kala Samman, Sangeet Ratna Samman, Shree Bhatt Kirti Award and many more. He has also been honoured with the National Flag of the Arab Republic of Egypt.


A highly learned person, Pandit Bhajan Sopori, has done his Masters degree in both the Sitar and the Santoor besides having a Masters degree in English Literature. He has also studied Western Classical Music at Washington University, USA.


What is notable about the Pandit Bhajan Sopori, the Santoor Virtuoso and Music Composer, has been the pioneer in establishing the Santoor on national and international platforms as a complete solo instrument. In his five decades of dedicated work he has explored various dimensions of the Santoor, carrying out many path-breaking innovations. He has increased the range of the Santoor from the conventional one-and-a-half to more than 3 octaves, balanced the ‘Kalam’ (strikers) with ‘boles’ and attached the ‘Tarab’ and ‘Tumba’ for enhanced tonal quality, etc. These innovations combined with his strong base in traditional ‘Raag-Sangeet’ allow for a systematic exposition of the Raag combining both the ‘Gayaki’ and the ‘Tantrakari Ang’ (style) in his recitals, demonstrating all the essential stylistic nuances of Hindustani Classical Music such as Meend, Glides, Gamak, Boles, including the ‘Dhrupad Ang’ with the accompaniment of the Pakhawaj. His recitals are known for their high degree of technical virtuosity combining highly intricate ‘layakari’, legendary ‘chhandkari’, speedy ‘taan’ patterns running through three octaves and a melodious ‘alaap’. He has thereby expanded the scope of the Santoor as a classical instrument and formally established the Sopori Baaj in the realm of Indian Classical Music for which he is hailed as the “Saint of Santoor” and the “King of Strings”. It is also entirely to the credit of the Sopori Family that Hindustani Classical and Light Music acquire legitimate space in the Kashmir Valley.


Pandit Sopori combines a profound knowledge of music and musicology and is the only classical musician to have composed music for more than 5000 songs in various languages of the country including Persian, Arabic, etc. Panditji has led the revival of Sufism to spread the message of humanism and the patriotism amongst the masses, especially the youth. He has composed the works of almost all the major Sufi saints along with Guru-Baani, Naats, Shabads, Vedic Chants and Sanskrit mantras like ‘Mahamrityunjaya’, ‘Durga Kavach’ and ‘Surya Upasana’. Panditji has also created three new Raags: Raag Laleshwari, Raag Patwanti, and Raag Nirmalranjani.


His compositions bear the distinctive stamp of his virtuosity and erudition and have been sung by eminent vocalists of the country. His classical version of “Saare Jahan Se Achhaa …” and instrumental version of “Vande Maataram” are recognized pioneering efforts. Panditji has used his Santoor and his compositions to highlight the concept of oneness and foster unity enshrining the idea of national integration, humanism and peace amongst the common man and the youth in particular. Moreover, he has extended the various possibilities in Santoor playing and prepared a formal system, the Sopori Baaj, on the basis of which further research and experimentation may be carried out on the Santoor.

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