2 years ago
The dreams that he beheld forbade him to seek for greener pastures abroad. Scholar, academician and Sitar maestro Dhrubesh Chandra Regmi has been living a legacy of his predecessors. Starting to play sitar under the guidance of his father, he became the first Nepali musician to hold a PhD degree in music. He received the degree from Delhi University in 2004 for his dissertation entitled ‘History of music in Nepal with special reference to classical music during the Rana period.’ Although he graduated in law in 1985, he dedicated most of his time contributing to Nepali classical music. He is one of the founder members of renowned Nepali classical and folk musical group Sukarma.
In an interview with My City’s Sonam Lama, Regmi shared some of his insights on his four-decade long journey in Nepali classical music.
What is your definition of music?
Music upholds societal norms and values and is a representation of the deep-seated cultures. It is an art in itself, which is more or less influenced by the manner and style that it has been delivered with. The idea of music transcends audible pleasure. It emanates a sense of peace and energy to reflect upon oneself delving deeper to the wake of one’s consciousness and is moreover a therapy that could leap a sense of spirituality. My musical journey has been the source of my dignity and strength. Driven by a shared feeling of encouragement via music, we created the folk classical band Sukarma in 1997 in order to revive and celebrate instrumental classical music amidst a larger audience.
What was your early inspiration to seek career in classical music?
I was privileged to be born in a family with strong roots to classical music. So, more than I seeking music on my own, it came to me. I was about eight years when I started learning sitar from my father and at the age of 13, I performed the first concert of my life. Those were the moments of glory that I had experienced which eventually led me to take a firm hold of my passion in classical music. I take my great grandfather Dev Chandra Regmi as my first inspiration. He was a scholar of Saamaveda and is one of the pioneers in sitar and Nepali classical music.
What setbacks did you initially witness in your journey?
For me music was absolutely not a far-fetched dream like it was for many others then. Having belonged to a family of musicians, my struggles and setbacks to fetch opportunities were limited. However, when I take myself as an individual who was a law graduate and a music teacher at an early age, I had my share of hardships to efficiently shoulder the responsibility that I was given. In 1989 when I professionally started my career in music, I was provided with many exposures abroad but I turned them down. As a growing artist, a life limited to a certain periphery was not pleasing to me since I had wanted to deeply explore the genre of classical music.
How has classical music grown over the decades? How have you observed the genre influencing youths to get engaged in it?
Classical music basically shares a common foundation to the rest of the music genres. So in a way it can be observed that classical music provides a strong base to music. From opportunities to gaining academic skills, music has grown to larger extent. However, I believe any piece of music needs to be contemporized with the need of time but without the essence of it being distorted. The idea behind forming Sukarma was to musically unite and contribute with a hope to uplift Nepali classical music through reviving the genre. I believe our collaboration has come to fruition having reached to a wider number of young audiences.
After you received PhD in 2004, a few others have received PhD in music. What is your view on that?
Music has grown much from the time when I had started my career. However, due to a slow pace of progress in the sector, not much impact has been seen on the learners. Getting a scholarship for PhD was hard nut to crack for me, however, with my long academic record and dedication in the field, I was ultimately able to achieve the dream that I had beheld. I believe the responsibility also lies on the state government to enhance the scope of music by dividing platforms and providing ample opportunities.