Wednesday, November 25, 2020

An Indian sings Italian opera

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Shanul Sharma has had quite the journey from lead singer in a heavy metal band to tenor soloist, writes VIRAT NEHRU

Shanul Sharma has not had what you would call an ordinary life. From a 19-year-old who arrived on Australian shores with the intention to pursue IT Engineering, he found himself gracing the stage as the lead vocalist of the heavy metal band Sobrusion before transitioning to singing in the western classical style. The band parted ways in 2012, but Sharma had by then already set his sights on a career in opera.
Shanul Sharma.Indian Link
Today, he appears as a tenor soloist in the show Canzoni Di Mio Padre (Songs My Father Taught Me) – an eclectic mix of Neapolitan and popular Italian songs performed with the backing of a majestic 55-piece symphonic orchestra. The brainchild of talented musician and conductor Daniele Ciurleo, Shanul Sharma appears alongside David Visentin executing songs in the style of operatic legends such as Luciano Pavarotti.
Sharma’s transition and rise from a heavy metal and rock ‘n’ roll artist based in regional NSW, to an opera singer training in Melbourne, is as fascinating as it is unusual. However, his first memories of music are much closer to home.
“My dad always maintained that my first experience of music was listening to old Mohammed Rafi and Kishore Kumar Bollywood songs in the back of the car,” he says.
Not exactly how you would imagine the musical leanings of either a heavy metal or an opera singer to take shape now, would you? But that changed swiftly when Sharma arrived in Australia to pursue further studies.

“I started off with Bollywood music,” he explains. “Then, during my high school years, I was exposed to western music – Michael Jackson was a big influence. I got a heavy metal album by Def Leopard and that basically set the course for western rock ‘n’ roll.”
Shanul Sharma.Indian Link

When the time came, it was a difficult choice to make between what has traditionally been considered two different paths to follow – career (IT Engineering) or passion (singing). However, Sharma had the determination to turn his passion into his career. But he admits that wouldn’t have been possible without the support of his father.
“My dad always encouraged me to pursue singing,” Sharma says. “He always said that there will be many IT engineers in this world, but only a few of us who can sing, so pursue your singing while you do your studies.”
Sharma had already started infusing western classical elements into his style of singing around 2010, when he was part of the heavy metal band. Still, heavy metal and western classical appear to be polar opposite genres – not just stylistically but also in terms of execution. It was Sharma’s affinity for old Bollywood and Indian classical music that aided him in his transition into western opera singing. The overlap between the two classical music styles is stronger than one might imagine.

Shanul Sharma.Indian Link
Photo: Ciccone Academy

“I explored western classical singing as a stylistic expression and was surprised at how naturally it came to me,” Sharma reveals. “The vowels, which is basically the core of the sound in Hindi, are very similar to the vowels in Italian. It’s a very open language, with an open throat, so it wasn’t all that alien to me.”
“If you HEAR Mohammed Rafi sing that famous song ‘Madhuban Mein Radhika Nachi’, it’s got all those ups and downs and all those trills,” Sharma says. “The type of singing that I do in opera includes all those aspects as well. In a way, it’s sort of natural. The styles are actually quite closely linked once you analyse it.”
You wouldn’t think it, but being part of a heavy metal band proved to be the perfect training ground for an operatic tenor in the making.
Shanul Sharma.Indian Link
With Sobrusion

“Naturally speaking, I don’t have what they call a ‘big’ voice. My voice is that of a lyric tenor. It’s a ‘sweeter’ sound. It’s not like a bulldozer. It’s like a beautiful Rolls Royce, so you have to treat it with care and have precision in your approach to singing,” Sharma explains.
“That aspect led me to explore the classical style, because it’s based on efficiency. The heavy metal band was actually quite loud and to be able to sing on top of that ensemble – with the heavy guitar and the big drums – you have to develop frequencies in your voice that are very similar to what a classical singer does. I had to instinctively develop all those aspects in my voice in my rock ’n’ roll years. In my own way, I taught myself to sing classical music without even realising it!”
Always looking to improve and challenge himself, Sharma has already taken a giant stride in establishing a singing career.
“I’ve been accepted into the Wales International Academy of Voice. This school takes about fifteen singers every year, from a whole pool of singers across the world, to train them into professional international touring artists. I’m trying to fund raise at the moment, to make my way to Cardiff. Stay there for eleven months, learn as much as I can and hopefully get on the international circuit.”
Click to read: JASMEET SAHI reviews Shanul Sharma at the Melbourne Recital Centre

Related Articles

Saving Hindi at La Trobe

  A video message prepared by Dr Ian Woolford of La Trobe University, to save Hindi studies from being terminated due to COVID-caused financial hardships,...

Diwali Art Contest 2020 Winners

  Eight-year-old Aarav Panicker of Rouse Hill NSW has won this year’s Indian Link Diwali Art Contest for kids, in the 8-12 Years category. Akshara Srinivasan,...

2000 people in 14 countries see Melb play online

Recently, Forty-five amateur artists pulled off a theatrical coup of sorts with Bouquet, a 9-play act held virtually. Even as COVID-caused lockdown persisted, the...

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

- Advertisement -

Podcasts

Ep8: Indian links in Indigenous Australian poet Ali Cobby Eckermann’s life

0
To celebrate NAIDOC week 2020 (between 8-15 November) I spoke to Yakunytjatjara poet Ali Cobby Eckermann about her time in India where she taught...

Ep 7: In the case of Sushant Singh Rajput

0
  The torrid and high-octane Sushant Singh Rajput case has been fodder for Indian people and press for the last few months. The actor’s tragic...

Ep 6: The Indian LGBTQ+ community in 2020

0
  It’s been two years since the world’s largest democracy repealed the draconian Section 377 which used to allow discrimination against homosexual people. Only this...
- Advertisement -

Latest News

tiger cub

India’s Pilibhit Reserve gets global award for doubling tiger population

0
  The Pilibhit Tiger Reserve (PTR) and the Uttar Pradesh Forest department have bagged the first-ever international award, TX2, for doubling the number of tigers...
chitra divakaruni the last queen

Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni on ‘The Last Queen’ and women empowerment

0
  Reading about the Kohinoor diamond and how it was taken by the British from Maharaja Dalip Singh and given to Queen Victoria, writer Chitra...
mehul choksi, vijay mallya, lalit modi, nirav modi

India has caught only 2 of 72 fugitive scamsters in 5...

0
  In a candid admission, the Centre has stated that of the 72 absconding economic offenders, the government has managed to bring in only two...
India Tour of Australia dates

Ind V Aus fixtures: Matches begin this weekend

0
The upcoming months promise an exciting season for cricket with three series – the Vodafone Test series, Dettol ODI series, and Dettol Twenty20 International...
delhi crime netflix wins international emmy

‘Delhi Crime’ becomes first Indian show to win International Emmy

0
  Web series Delhi Crime has won the Best Drama Series award at the 48th International Emmy Awards, held virtually this year owing to the...