Nepali Classical Music: The Show Must Go On

Art Issue 108 Oct, 2010
Text by Nivida Lamichhane / Photo: ECS Media

Born into a family of musicians, Dhrubesh Chandra Regmi is a well known face in the classical music industry. The first Nepali to hold a PhD in music, he is not only the fourth generation of sitar players in his family but also a multi-faceted man.

As a child, Dhrubesh grew up listening to the music his father and grandfather played, which slowly built a longing in him to learn the sitar. He embarked on his musical journey when he gave a public performance during his early teens. Talking about it now, he says he didn’t take up playing the sitar because of family pressure but because of his love for music. Among his four brothers, he is the only one to have kept his family tradition alive. His desire is to keep up this trend and so has taken his 15-year-old son, Hritesh Chandra Regmi, as his student.

Dhrubesh is one of the founder members of the musical group ‘Sukarma’, which was formed in 1997. Today, it is one of Nepal’s most sought-after folk-classical groups, having released more than 10 albums till date. Sukarma has also been honored by Nepal Tourism Board with the title of Goodwill Ambassador for Nepal Tourism Year 2011.

Pursuing music in Nepal is not easy, and it took quite a while for the group to establish itself. However, once it ‘hit’ the masses, there was no looking back. The Nepal- based group became international overnight, visiting foreign countries and promoting Nepal and Nepali music. The group only recently returned from a 45-day tour of six countries - France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Netherland, Germany and Switzerland, which was followed by a week-long musical tour to Hong Kong and Korea.

Dhrubesh took up law since Nepali society is all tied up in the fallacy that an educational degree is a must. In the beginning of his career he chose law as his profession and music as a hobby. However, today, music is his profession and law is playing second fiddle as a hobby. Currently the President of Nepal Classical Music Society and Associate Professor at Padma Kanya Campus, Tribhuvan University, Dhrubesh is also involved as a social worker. He is also the founder member of the South Asia Watch on Trade, Economics and Environment (SAWTEE). When asked to choose between music and his other engagements, he says his first choice, any day, would be music because of his love for the same and the immense sense of satisfaction and peace that he receives through music.

Sukarma has taken Nepali folk and classical music to great new heights. Today, when classical music is struggling to remain popular, musicians like Dhrubesh constitute a rare gift to the music industry, and the continued effort and dedication of musicians like him to keep classical music alive should neither be ignored nor ever forgotten.