Composer and performer, Pandit Shubhendra Rao is amongst the foremost soloists of India. Distinguished as a musical bridge to many cultures, he creates an experience for his audience that "is not aimed at titillating the senses, but to seize the soul" (The Hindu, New Delhi). A protégé of world-renowned Sitar maestro, Pandit Ravi Shankar, Shubhendra has established himself “not only as a master of his instrument but also as a thinking musician, constantly endeavouring to carry his instrument beyond conventional boundaries“(Gateway magazine).
Hailed by critics and connoisseurs as a worthy successor to his Guru’s tradition, Shubhendra has performed internationally at major music festivals and prestigious concert halls like Carnegie Hall and on Broadway in New York, WOMAD festival in Guernsey, UK, Sydney Opera House in Australia, Kennedy Center for Performing Arts, Washington DC, the Edinburgh Festivals in Scotland, National Arts Festival in South Africa, Theatre de le Ville in Paris. In India, Shubhendra has performed at major music festivals in India including the Doverlane Conference, ITC Sangeet Sammelan in Kolkata, Baba Harvallabh Sangeet Mahasabha in Jullandhar, Shankarlal Festival and the Gunidas Sammelan in New Delhi, the SAPTAK Festival in Ahmedabad, the Vasantahabba Festival in Bangalore. He is invited as a guest teacher to give lecture-demonstrations about Indian music by leading universities all over the world. His international tours have taken him to the USA, Canada, South Africa, Australia, Mexico, England, Ireland, France, Netherlands, Switzerland, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Hungary, Belgium and many Asian countries like Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Thailand, Dubai and Bangladesh. In November 2007, he was awarded the “Youth Icon for Classical Music” by the popular Zee Television Network.
A child prodigy who started playing the Sitar at the age of 3, Shubhendra’s first teacher was his father, N.R.Rama Rao, a noted and close disciple of Pandit Ravi Shankar. Shubhendra had his first lesson from the maestro at the age of 8 and in the ensuing years, he would travel the country to continue his learning. At the age of 18, he moved to Delhi to live with and learn from his Guru in the true Guru-Shishya tradition. The years that followed were a period of introspective and creative metamorphosis. Ravi Shankar nurtured Shubhendra’s innate talents, and gave him a deep insight into what it entails to become a complete artiste, as only he could. An important part of his learning was assisting his Guru in solo concerts and orchestras like Live in Kremlin and Ghanashyam in the UK and India and many other creative projects.
A regular performer on radio and the national television, he is one of the very few artistes to have been invited to audition by All India Radio and given an ‘A’ Grade. His CDs that have been released by leading music companies all over the world have received rave reviews from the press.
Well-known as a composer, Shubhendra distinguishes himself by working with musicians across cultures. The new musical language that he has evolved with his Cellist wife, Saskia Rao- de Haas titled East Marries West has held audiences the world over spellbound. His innovative work with Jazz Guitarist Freddie Bryant and his group Kaleidoscope has been received with great keenness everywhere they have performed. He has composed for and worked with Japanese legendary singer, Ms.Ryoko Moriyama, Jazz Flautist James Newton, Chinese Pipa player, Gao Hong amongst others.
Shubhendra Rao lives in New Delhi with his wife and son. He performs extensively and continues to be deeply involved in experimenting with new musical idioms, creating and teaching music