Harsh Narayan is a leading sarangi player of the younger generation and performer of Hindustani Classical Music living in Mumbai, India. He has performed and recorded with many Indian Classical Musicians worldwide and has recently released his first solo album “Scintillating Sarangi” (Times Music India, 2016). More recently, in 2020 he released his album ‘Dhanurvadya’ with a USA based record company Tala Records.
To say that Harsh Narayan’s life has been steeped in the classical music of India since he was born is an understatement. His father is the sarod maestro Brij Narayan and his aunt is the sarangi virtuoso Aruna Narayan Kalle. And as if that is not enough of a rarified birth, his grandfather is none other than the legendary sarangi maestro Pandit Ram Narayan, credited by experts worldwide for bringing the sarangi to the forefront of Indian Classical Music as a solo instrument of the highest order. Of the Pandit, the great Yehudi Menuhin has said:
“The Sarangi remains not only the authentic and original Indian Bowed instrument but the one which most poignantly and in the hands of Ram Narayan most revealingly expresses the very soul of Indian feelings and thought. I cannot separate the Sarangi from Ram Narayan so thoroughly fused are they not only in my memory but in the fact of this sublime dedication of the great musician to an instrument which is no longer archaic because of the matchless way he has made it speak.” ~ Yehudi Menuhin
Born in Mumbai, Harsh Narayan has had the great fortune of studying with his grandfather since the age of six. While under the caring guidance of his illustrious teacher, Harsh’s musicianship was developed and his natural talent was exposed. Right from the start, Harsh embraced this training with a passion for the sarangi, a highly technical and very challenging instrument to play. This passion has only been surpassed by his devotion to his grandfather and to the musical legacy that he wholeheartedly embraced.
This musical foundation, a well-rounded and rigorous training by a family of maestros, lead to a virtuosity that can be witnessed in his concert presentations, where the depth of his musical perception has earned him an “A” graded artist rating from All India Radio. His total command of sarangi playing technique allows him an enviable degree of creative freedom, coaxing the inherent musicality out of the instrument, with the flair of a seasoned performer.
Harsh Narayan started performing at the age of sixteen, having his first major performance at The Nehru Centre (Mumbai, 2002) on the occasion of his grandfather’s 75th birthday celebration. The recording of this concert (Virgin Records, 2003) is very unique because it was the first time that three generations of sarangi players performed together on stage: Pandit Ram Narayan, daughter Aruna Narayan Kalle, and grandson Harsh Narayan, with Aneesh Pradhan playing the Tabla.
Another performance released on DVD is titled “Doordarshan” (The National Television of India, 2013) which is a compilation of many memorable performances of Pandit Ram Narayan. In one of these, Harsh Narayan joins his grandfather in a remarkably virtuosic sarangi duet of Raga Bhopal Todi.
In 2003 Harsh gave his first international performance in the UK at Purcell Room (Royal Festival Hall, London) and in 2006 he had the opportunity to perform along with his grandfather at the Rashtrapati Bhavan (President’s House) in New Delhi for Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, President of India.
During the last decade, while developing his musical career in earnest, Harsh earned his MBA from K.C. College of Management Studies in Mumbai (2007).
All throughout, his concert schedule has grown considerably, both in India and abroad where he has accompanied Pandit Ram Narayan in his concerts in the UK, Spain, Portugal and Germany. In 2010 they performed together to an enthusiastic response in Pune at The Sawai Gandharva Festival, one of the best classical music festivals in India. In 2015, Harsh performed solo at the Theatre of Le Forum in Blanc Mesnil, Paris in which he offered his articulate expert teaching of “… all things sarangi”, sharing a lecture and instrument demonstration before the concert. He capped off the year 2015 with an honored and thrilling performance at the prestigious Tansen Music Festival in Gwalior.
In 2016, one of the top music labels in India “Times Music” released Harsh’s first solo album titled ‘Scintillating Sarangi’ which is available for sale in music stores in India and online worldwide at iTunes and Amazon. His most recent album ‘Dhanurvadya’ was released in the USA, is also available for sale worldwide through iTunes and Amazon.
Harsh Narayan toured in the United States in 2016 where he performed to appreciative audiences at venues including MIT in Cambridge, the University of California in Santa Cruz, the Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC, the University of Pennsylvania and Temple University in Philadelphia.
Harsh continues to build out and broaden his musical career as a teacher and performer in India and abroad. He has recently completed another United States tour in October 2019 where he performed at prestigious venues including Cleveland State University, Bowling Green University, The Rotunda presented by Fire Museum in association with University of Pennsylvania, to name a few.
In December 2019, Harsh received the “Shanmukha Sangeetha Shiromani Award” by Sri Shanmukhananda Fine Arts & Sangeetha Sabha. He was conferred with “Akhil Bhartiya Pratibha Puraskar 2019” in Delhi by Arts & Cultural Trust on India and ‘Ustad Adbul Waheed Khan Sanman 2018. More recently he received the prestigious SNA’s Ustad Bismillah Khan Yuva Puraskar 2020.
Blessed with a unique musical background and an invaluable classical training, Harsh Narayan is eminently qualified to expand upon the enormous body of work of his grandfather while establishing himself among the new generation of Indian Classical Musicians and sarangi torch bearers.
Ustad Bismillah Khan Yuva Puraskar 2020 of Sangeet Natak Akademi from Shri Kishan Reddy Gangapuram – Hon’ble Minister of Culture, Tourism and Development of North Eastern Region of India; in the presence of:
- Dr. Sandhya Purecha, Chairman, SNA
- Shri Joravarsinh Jadav, Vice-chairman, SNA
- Shri Aneish P Rajan – Secretary, SNA
- Uma Nanduri – Joint Secretary, Ministry of Culture.
Here are some pictures of the Award Presentation Ceremony held at Meghdoot Complex, Rabindra Bhavan, New Delhi.