Baluji is one of the great sitarists to emerge from India. He is a rare musician indeed, and along with solo sitar albums he also has solo releases on dilruba (fretted fiddle) and Surbhar (bass sitar). Baluji’s style has been has been described as “lush and utterly fresh” (Scotsman 2007) making him an accessible artist whose performances are infused with a warmth and humour that help connect audiences (new and old alike) with Indian Classical Music. Baluji’s special ability is to make his music more than about incredible technique but about emotion and feelings and to experiment across traditions and genres.
That said Balu is also a contemporary composer of high renown. His new album “Goddess” – a celebration of female deities from around the world – premiered at Londons’ South Bank in Spring 2010. It is released on ARC records it and features Doves drummer Andy Williams. Recently Baluji has also completed his latest commission for Croydon Summer Festival (supported by ACE and PRS Foundation) for an 8 piece percussion ensemble (Taal Zindigi) which premiered at Croydon Festival on 1st August 2010. Baluji is developing a complementary educational package for Taal Zindigi and bring this show to schools, Melas and festivals for 2011.
Baluji continues to developing a number of new projects including, with Tara Arts, a Urdu Opera for the Cultural Olympiad and he was recently awarded a grant through the British CouncilsUK-India Connections program to work with hitherto marginalized blind musicians in India.
Baluji’s musical story began in a small village of Usmanpur in North India where as a baby he used to listen to the music from a neighbour’s transistor radio. Tragically blinded as a baby he was sent away as a young boy to live at Ajmer Blind School where music was a compulsory subject. ‘his talent soon became apparent and he won many prizes for the school. Following on from these success he was elevated to conducting the 80 strong school orchestra.
He graduated from Lucknow Univeristy at an early age with a B.A. in Tabla and an M.A. in Sitar from Allahabad University.
Baluji supported his family throughout his studies and continued to do so when he toured India playing with the National Ballet Troupe. This exposed him to the rich variety of regional musical styles which have become a lifelong source of inspiration.
Baluji was Professor of Music in a college in Agra when he was invited to France to teach. Establishing himself first in France and then in the UK music scene it wasn’t long before Baluji was invited to record an album with ARC Music.
The outstanding characteristic of Baluji’s musical career is his versatility. His ability to concentrate on sound as his primary mode of interaction with the world has enriched his musicality and his courageous attitude to life is reflected in his approach to music.
Firmly established in the Hindustani classical tradition he is worked with and recorded with some of the greatest tabla accompanists such as Anindo Chatterji and Ustad Fayaz Khan.
As a composer Baluji has created new music such as Portraits of the Dark, a specially commissioned piece which uses music and drama to describe Baluji’s own life as a blind musician, Sitar-Guitar Suites and the oratorio Sohini and Mahival. He has performed and taught all over the world and has recorded many albums with a wide variety of western artists and bands such as Massive Attack, Future Sound of London, Andy Sheppard and Guy Barker.
Baluji is not only a great musician but a great ambassador for South Asian music within the UK and internationally. His warm and affectionate stage persona makes him a unique communicator.
"Raag Shyam Kalyan on Dilruba"