Jasdeep Singh Degun makes history at Royal Philharmonic Society Awards

Leeds-based sitarist Jasdeep Singh Degun picked up the award for Best Instrumentalist at the Royal Philharmonic Society Awards on Tuesday, making history as the first sitar player to receive the award.

Last week Jasdeep released a new track, ‘Lament’, taken from the critically-acclaimed opera Orpheus — an Opera North re-imagining of Monteverdi’s original Orfeo. His work as musical director of this opera earned him a second nomination in Tuesday’s awards ceremony in the Best Large-Scale Composition category.

Jasdeep told BBC News the prize was “testament to the hundreds of Indian classical musicians in this country.” He said that it felt like Indian classical musicians have really stepped forward into the classical psyche.

Originally sung by the entire chorus and full orchestra lamenting the death of the main character Eurydice, the new track ‘Lament’ is based on a beautiful raag called ‘Sindhi Bhairavi’ — usually performed in a semi-classical style such as thumri or ghazal —which deals with ‘topics of spiritual and romantic love and may be understood as a poetic expression of both the pain of loss, or separation from the beloved, and the beauty of love in spite of that pain.’ Jasdeep felt this raag best expressed the outward grief of the family and friends of Eurydice. In this single release, Jasdeep has stripped back ‘Lament’ for chamber ensemble, featuring a string arrangement by cellist Ian Burdge. He is joined by Sally Herbert (violin), Simeon Walker (piano), Ian Burdge (cello) and Harkiret Bahra (tabla).

Jasdeep Singh Degun - Lament (Official Video)

Orpheus received unprecedented critical acclaim when it opened in 2022, sweeping the board with five-star reviews in The Independent, The Observer, The Stage, winning Outstanding Achievement in Opera at both the Critic’s Circle Awards and the UK Theatre Awards and earning a nomination for Best Stage Work at the 2023 Ivor Novello Classical Awards.

Following the release of his debut album Anomaly on Real World Records, Jasdeep was awarded Best Newcomer at the 2023 Songlines Awards and received the award for Arts & Culture at the 21st Asian Achievers Awards. He will be performing a number of Indian classical concerts in this year, tickets for which are now on sale.

Download/listen to ‘Lament’

Tour Dates

07 MAR 2024 CAMBRIDGE Pembroke College Auditorium
15 MAR 2024 LEICESTER Attenborough Arts Centre
21 MAR 2024 NEWCASTLE The King’s Hall
09 JULY 2024 LICHFIELD Lichfield Music Festival
10 JUL 2024 DEWSBURY Dewsbury Town Hall

Featured release

  • Anomaly

    Jasdeep Singh Degun

    Released 06 May 2022

    Submit to the beauty and sorrow, the poetry and power, of the sitar – that plucked string instrument with the long neck, pear-shaped gourd and origins in the courts of the Maharajahs of medieval India. Marvel at the astonishing prowess of Jasdeep Singh Degun, a sitarist steeped in the Indian classical tradition and proudly born, raised and based in Leeds, north of England.

By Online Editor

Main image: Jasdeep Singh Degun with his award at the Royal Philharmonic Society Awards in Manchester. Photo courtesy of BBC Look North.

Published on Fri, 08 March 24

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