Passion, persistence and professionSayak Barua

"I was a young boy with dreams of being a musician, but in search of the right direction,” is how 38-year-old sarod player, Sayak Barua, describes the beginning of his musical journey, which was marred with obstacles.

It all began in 2007 when a Rabindra Bharati music post-graduate joined the Eastern Railways to work as a clerk to balance a career in music. Explaining the situation, he says, “I come from a family of teachers, for whom music was a passionate hobby but never a profession. I am a first-generation musician in the family but it has been a long and hard battle. The struggle was never with familial pressure or resistance, but the challenge of penetrating through a tightly woven legacy-based culture in Hindustani Classical music.”

For him, music was not just a hobby, but his life. He quit within 9 months of joining his job. What followed were a few long years of struggle, until a silver lining surfaced in 2012 through the Junior Research Fellowship granted by the Ministry of Culture and subsequently, a culture-exchange programme by the US State Department.

“Artists from more than 29 countries were part of this music tour. It was like life had finally opened up to me, and it was my time to shine,” adds Sayak.

Next year in 2013, he participated in the Sharq Taronalari festival representing India. “During the festival, the principal of a co-ed school in Kabul offered me a position as a teacher. My wife and I were upcoming musicians at the time but more than money, the thought of teaching children music and witnessing how it impacted lives in conflict-driven areas, was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that none of us wanted to miss. Hence we moved to Kabul for almost a month, both in 2014 and then 2015,” he adds.

Many of Sayak's students now continue his legacy. “Two of my female students were able to break all shackles of patriarchy and are now pursuing music in Delhi”.

After Kabul, the couple moved to China for a few years, where Sayak's wife was employed by the Indian Embassy as a music teacher/performer. Although unofficially, Sayak continued to pursue music there and was instrumental in propagating Indian music and culture by organizing lecture demonstrations at various Chinese universities in Beijing, performing at local Beijing art spaces, collaborating with Chinese musicians as well as teaching Indian music to Chinese musicians. Sayak's student Li Huiwoan, a Chinese sitar player was appointed as the Sitar teacher in The Beijing Conservatory of Music. He was also a participating musician in the Indo-China collaborative music video rendition of ‘Vaishnav Jan To' to commemorate the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi as per the directives of the PMO.

After 3 years in China, the couple, then moved back to India in 2018, to enable Sayak to work as an independent artist.

Back home, as he continues to explore new opportunities and stages, Sayak finds himself lucky to have performed at the HCL Digital Concerts (in 2019) as it has helped him expand his career in India. “Being recognised in one's own home is a pleasure any artist craves for, despite their international portfolio. And, HCL Digital Concerts is helping first-generation artists like me get that exposure, ” adds Sayak.

HCL Digital Concerts is a platform meant to identify aspiring musicians and provide them with opportunities to showcase their talent through digital as well as physical music concerts.

Read More Stories

Excellence in performing arts is the consummation of years of rigorous application and expert training. The fusion of body and mind makes every expression of artistry truly world class. Just as HCL synergizes knowledge with endeavour to produce innovative solutions, HCL Concerts celebrates the sheer brilliance of human genius in the field of performing arts.