Pandit Shivnath Mishra was born on the 12th of October 1943, in Varanasi (North India). Also known as “Legend of the Sitar”, he is the 10th generation of the prominent Benares Gharana lineage of top class singers including Pandit Bade Ramdas Mishra and Panditji Great Grand Father. Since childhood, his highly musical family could see signs of a masterful musician in him. When Panditji was five years old, he began studying vocal music with his father, Badri Prashad Mishra, and his uncle-guru, Pandit Mahadev Prashad Mishra. However, when he was eight his musical inclination led him to study the sitar. In a family of great classical Indian vocalists, he was the first one who mastered the sitar.
Due to the vocal influence from his family as well as the Benares Gharana tradition, he is one among few artists in Contemporary India who ‘sing inside’ while playing a musical instrument. His lively, powerful and unique style has praised him with innumerous titles by the most representative authorities and institutions of music in and outside India. In 1966, when he was only twenty-three, he received a gold medal in the All India Music Conference, in Calcutta.
1979 marks the beginning of his performances abroad. Sine then, he has been constantly on tour in many foreign countries, among them Germany, Italy, France, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Austria, Japan, Holland etc. In 1999, he gave his first concert in the USA and Canada. During his tours, he has performed with several international jazz artists such as John Handy, Paul Horn, David Freezen, Ben Conrad, Berred Kworrase, George Figgler Aimester among others. Moreover, he participated in many conferences and recitals including the Condolence Metal of Late Prime Minister Mrs. Indira Gandhi, in Germany. He also took part in programs broadcast by the BBC Television and the German Radio.
Being one of India’s premiere sitar artists of all times, Pandit Shivnath Mishra was the Head of the Music Department at the Sampurnanand Sanskrit University of Benares, in Varanasi, for 36 years. At this time, in 1994, he formed the “Music of Benares” which consists of a group of North Indian (Hindustani) classical musicians whose aim is to familiarize audiences all over the world with Hindustani music in general and the Benares Gharana in particular. What is characteristic of the Benares Gharana is exactly the singing of the Thumri, a light Indian classical music that is highly ornamental and thus very emotional and expressive. At a time when many different Gharanas mix with each other, the “Music of Benares” group keeps this ancient tradition alive.
Incorporation of this style with the “Jugalbandi” presentation, in which there are two solo artists sharing the stage, has created a unique synthesis of classical and folk that appeals to audiences everywhere. But this is not just Jugalbandi, this is a duet between a Guru and his Shishya (disciple) and, in this case, between father and son. Seeing this special interaction on stage is no doubt an unforgettable and mesmerizing experience.