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Guitarist Denis Stern to play classic Tagore melodies in Kolkata

Denis Stern, the St Petersburg-born composer and guitarist, will incorporate Rabindranath Tagore's classic melodies in his performance in Kolkata later this year

Denis Stern, a guitarist, incorporate global musical traditions in his work. Image via @denis.stern on Instagram
Denis Stern, a guitarist, incorporate global musical traditions in his work. Image via @denis.stern on Instagram

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Internationally acclaimed guitarist and composer Denis Stern is all set to perform in India for the first time after the covid-19 pandemic. He will be strumming to a selection of Rabindranath Tagore classics for a dance drama in Kolkata later this year. The programme is likely to be held in mid-September at the Indian Council For Cultural Relations (ICCR), Kolkata.

"The covid-19 pandemic has significantly reduced the frequency of such events, but I am happy to perform in Kolkata again. I will create the music for the dance drama Draupadi alongside some very notable musicians," he says.

Stern has, in the past, performed at live concerts in Kolkata, Bengaluru and Chennai."I love to play in Kolkata as it's a cultural base. I have friends in the city, and feel at home," adds the musician.

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Outside of India, the renowned musician is slated to play in Germany in November. He feels world fusion, which is his style of music, works well in India since it is not complicated.

“The Indian audience has great knowledge about music and is open to variety. Initially, I didn’t know how people would react to fusion music,” he says. “But, it has turned out to be great. The audience likes this kind of music because there is a lot to offer” In the same musical piece, the listeners will find flamenco, jazz, Latin and Indian rhythms, Indo-Arabian melodies, and so on.

His music is a mix of cultures of all the places he has lived in, such as Russia, Spain, Italy and Israel. The guitarist's love for India can easily be ascertained from the fact that he is a regular faculty at the premier Swarnabhoomi Academy of Music (SAM) in Chennai, where he teaches jazz.

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Stern's India connection can be traced to his childhood days in St Petersburg, where he was introduced to Indian cinema and music by his mother. “When I was a kid, we did not have American movies in Russia; we had cinema from India, East Germany and a few other countries... My mother loved old Indian films. I can vividly recall watching Seeta Aur Geeta (a 1972-film directed by Ramesh Sippy),” he elaborates.

He was 15 when he first saw the sitar, and was simply overwhelmed and curious about it. Stern, whose signature track Way to Alhambra has a massive fan following across the globe, is fascinated by the rhythm of Indian music and the scope for improvisation. The guitarist also has to his credit the taroud, or a musical instrument with 11 strings, which he created. 

"It features a fretless neck and is shaped similar to a guitar but has a rounded hollow back like an Oud, which produces a warm, resonant sound and allows for a wider range of expression," explains Stern explains.

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