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Touching Heart Strings Classically: An Interview with Hungary’s Robert Sinha

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If you are fond of attending live classical instrumental or world music concerts in Europe, mainly in Holland, Belgium, Spain, France, Finland or Hungary, it is for sure that you are familiar with the personality you are going to read about on Blogcritics. We are talking about Robert Sinha, a classical guitar player and an acknowledged figure of the Hungarian world music scene, who has been performing at prestigious venues in European countries since the last four years or so.

Hello Robert, welcome to Blogcritics. How and when you decided to seriously delve into classical music and take it as a career?

At the age of 15, I was already considering music as a professional career. But I was also very much interested in science, physics especially. So first I entered the Budapest University of Technology, and got my M.Sc. in Engineering Physics in 1999. Until 2001 I was working as a project manager for a European Union’s network promoting energy efficiency. But music was always on my mind, so in 2001, I decided to try the entrance exam for classical guitar to the Dutch Royal Conservatory, one of the most acknowledged European music academies. I got admitted, and five years later, in 2006 I graduated.

You have graduated from the Dutch Royal Conservatory in music. What are your best remembrances during that tenure?

I cannot name any specific remembrance. … In general, I really enjoyed all the time I spent at the Conservatory, which indeed has a very stimulating environment artistically. The professors there, besides being world-class musicians, are very open-minded. I got very good guidance from them for my professional career.

You have been performing in all major musical events across Europe. Name some of the major events.

For example, with my world music trio called “Hangfestok” [featuring top Hungarian singer Eszter Bartok and guitar player Robert Vidak] we performed at Expo Zaragoza 2008. That concert was broadcast live by the Aragon Television, and as a result of our great success amongst the Spanish audience, we got invited to one of Madrid’s most prestigious cultural venues, Centro Cultural Conde Duque. [A really great honour for a Hungarian group performing a world music fusion that – besides Hungarian folk and Gypsy music – also includes Spanish flamenco.] But I also performed in Paris, Brussels and in Helsinki. And besides all that, I already had some success outside Europe too: in 2010 I performed in New York, at Hofstra University.

Besides live concerts and festivals you are engaged with TV channels and radio stations too. Name some.

I performed live on several occasions in all the major Hungarian TV channels and radio stations, plus the above mentioned performance broadcast live by the Aragon Television.

Roughly how many concerts so far? Which one would you rate as your best and why?

Approximately 200 concerts since 2006, when I graduated from the Dutch Royal Conservatory. The concerts in Spain were milestones in my career, because that country has the greatest guitar tradition in the whole world and therefore Spanish people are very critical about guitar music. So if you get accepted in Spain as a Hungarian guitar player, it means that you are good enough anywhere in the world. The concerts in New York and Paris were also great; it is every musician’s dream to perform in these cities, and in my own country. In this year (January) I performed in the Hungarian Parliament in connection to Hungary’s ongoing EU Presidency.

What other instruments do you play?

None.

Why you chose classical form of music, why not any other form of music?

Actually I also play flamenco, Hungarian folk and Gypsy music besides classical. I also like very much rock music from the 1960s, especially the songs of the The Doors and Janis Joplin. I compose a lot of music for my world music trio called “Hangfestok”. I also got involved in some fusion projects between music and other art forms (dance and poetry). For example, in 2007 I composed the music for a contemporary dance piece. And recently I have started a very interesting fusion project: a fusion of Indian and Hungarian music. Thanks to my family background (my father is Indian, my mother is Hungarian) I have always been interested in Indian music. In this project we are performing Hungarian folk songs accompanied by guitar, sitar (played by Szabolcs Toth) and tabla (played by Tibor Motyan). This project features one of Hungary’s top folk singers, Agnes Herczku.

What are your future plans?

With Hangfestok we will release our first album in autumn 2011. Also, I really hope that I will be able to give many more concerts all over the world.

What message would you like to convey to your fans and music lovers?

No matter which part of the world you live in, keep your own tradition going. At the same time, also stay open minded for the traditions of all the others. Music, and culture in general, is the best way to form bridges between people living all over the world.

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  • Garima Mohan

    JD,
    Congratulations!! Very good interview..always liked Robert’s Shows!! He is great..looking forward for some more interviews now. Here, we have lot of very talented people who are quite well known. Hope to see them here too.