As a musician he wants to collaborate with every single human being on earth. Every instrument, every person, every singer and instrumentalist, says classical guitarist of Indian origin, Aakash Saha. “The era of solo musician is no more. Back in the 17th and 18th Centuries there were solo musicians and that was fine. But, it’s always more exciting to watch an orchestra. I would much rather collaborate with other musicians and make my act more interesting than just be solo,” says Aakash.
Aakash visited Sri Lanka in June, at the invitation of Asian Guitar Federation, Amaranath Guitar Academy and the Indian Cultural Centre (ICC). He had three concerts and two days of master classes while he was here.
He was 12 years old when he first picked up the acoustic guitar. It was his obsession with the Beetles that led him to further his technique. “I realized I needed to pick up the classical guitar for this. Anything that has the classical base is the basic. I started playing the classical guitar in 2008 and 2009. Once I started playing the classical guitar, I realized I just want to stick to it,” says Aakash.
In 2010 he went on a classical guitar festival tour. There he met the legendary Denis Azabagic, who later became his professor at Chicago College of Performing Arts, Roosevelt University. “He suggested that I come to America and study guitar if I wanted to take it seriously,” Aakash shares.
Once he was in US, he lived with Denis. “It was like a gurukul to a certain extent. A gurukul is where you live with your teacher, you help him in many things and in return, he teaches you. That’s what we had in the historical times. This experience was similar,” shares Aakash. Denis not only taught Saha to be a better musician, a better guitarist, but also taught him to be a better human being. “My mother says that the version of me who went to USA in 2010 is completely different from the version that came back. He just shaped me as a musician as well as a human being,” Aakash confides.
Aakash says that working musically with Denis was an amazing experience. “We don’t have that kind of exposure in classical music in india. After coming back I see that I am more knowledgeable,” says Aakash.
He has already started an IGF training center in India, which is under the IGF (Indian Guitar Federation). This covers all the smaller guitar societies in India. “I basically teach everything that I have been taught in college. There are music theory lessons, group lessons and ensemble lessons. For group lessons we do the Austen guitar method that has been especially made for IGF training center by Matthew Hinsley. I use this method as well as Denis Azabagic’s method to teach in this school,” he shares.
Out of Denis’s and his wife’s students, Saha was the only one to experience actually living with the teacher. “I used to constantly hear Denis practising guitar, his wife practising the flute, and their son playing the piano. I used to hear the way they corrected their music while playing. I have seen how Denis used to apply the method that he used on me, on himself. I have seen Denis teaching his son the piano,” shares Aakash.
Aakash learnt from all these by taking down mental notes. This firsthand experience with professional touring musicians taught him a lot. It was a rare opportunity to observe a professional practising music. “You don’t usually see the amount of effort that goes on behind the scenes to prepare for a show. The number of hours put in to practice for a show. Once you get that experience you know what is expected of you. You know what you have to live up to,” confides Aakash.
He began composing music when he wanted to procrastinate from practising the guitar. Then he started doing his composition projects, in college. “At the end of the semester we had to compose by combining everything we had learned so far. I enjoyed it so much that I would do the composition projects of my friends,” he confides.
Currently, he is working on music for a movie. “It’s a Bengali art film. It’s still in the making and has a working title but I am not sure whether I am allowed to say anything. There are two of us working on music and I am trying to bring in the classical guitar in to the Tollywood industry as you don’t usually find such classical instruments there,” he shares.
Aakash received the honour of opening concert for the Thailand International Guitar Festival and Competition. “I am just starting and I am already getting concerts and tours. It’s a constant thing that you have to seek out. My professor still does it despite the fact that he is very established in his field. Trying to get concerts is a constant battle,” he confides.
“I wanted to come to Sri Lanka and share my knowledge with people here,” he says. “I would like to thank Amaranath Ranatunga and Amaranath Guitar Academy as well as ICC and its Director Rajashree Behera for facilitating and giving me this opportunity to come to Sri Lanka,” he concluded.