PRSSV was started in the UK by Pandit Sharda Sahai and Dr Frances Shepherd in 1987. A non-profit making organisation, its work is designed to meet the current needs for generating and understanding Indian Music.
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Our tabla playing heritage
Sharda Sahai was born in Benares in 1935, a direct descendent of Pandit Ram Sahai, the founder of the Benares style (“gharana”) of tabla playing. With the inherent gift in his blood of the finest traits of the Benares baj, he began at an early age to learn tabla from his father, the late Pandit Bhagvati Sahai. Following his father’s demise in 1946, he became a disciple of the inimitable Pandit Kanthe Maharaj, himself a disciple of Sharda Sahai’s grandfather, Pandit Baldeo Sahai.
Sharda Sahai started his professional career at the age of nine, performing both as a soloist and as an accompanist. He made his major public debut when he was sixteen, appearing at the Italee Music Conference in Calcutta with the sarod maestro Ali Akbar Khan. His professional activities in India have included appearances as soloist and accompanist at all of the important music conferences and festivals as well as performances with every major artist of North Indian classical music.
He was awarded “A Grade Artist” status by All India Radio in 1965. Also in 1965 he founded the Pandit Ram Sahai Sangit Vidyalaya, an institute for training in classical music and dance, located in Benares.
Sharda Sahai has performed over one thousand concerts worldwide. His solo performances have been broadcast on All India Radio’s prestigious National Program. His accompaniment experience includes every major artist of North Indian classical music- among others: sitarists Ravi Shankar, Vilayat Khan, and Nikhil Banerjee; sarodists Ali Akbar Khan and Amjad Ali Khan; violist V.G. Jog; and dancers Gopi Krishna, Birju Maharaj, and Sitara Devi.
In February, 1970 Sharda Sahai made a highly successful tour of Europe, the United States, and Canada with sarodist Amjad Ali Khan. His tabla playing made a powerful impression everywhere he played, and in September, 1970 he returned to the United States to accept an appointment as Artist in Residence with the World Music Program at Wesleyan University. He remained with Wesleyan University for five years, during which time he was also a visiting professor at Brown University and Berklee School of Music. Sharda Sahai’s superb ability as a performer is matched by his ability as a teacher. Few Indian musicians of his caliber have held as many teaching positions at such prestigious western universities. In recent years he has been dividing his time between busy teaching schedules, ongoing summer tabla training programs in the U.S. and Canada, and the administration of the Pandit Ram Sahai Sangit Vidyalaya in the U.K. In the U.K., he was a Senior Lecturer at Dartington College of Arts for six years, and he currently teaches tabla at Leeds University and at Oxford University.. .