Today, we have a special guest with us, Ungrumso Raman – a Grade 8 Western Classical Guitarist from Manipur. He is the winner of the Delhi International Classical Guitar Competition of 2015 and represented India in the 6th Sri Lanka Guitar Festival, 2016. Gifted as he was, he was also lucky to have been born and raised in a family who showed immense support for his musical passion, and has helped him to get to where he is today. In his early 20’s, Ungrumso also started teaching classical and acoustic guitar – a great achievement at a very young age. He has taught at Delhi School of Music, New Delhi and Institute of Music Dynamics, Gurgaon.
We had a chat with the talented Ungrumso Raman to know more about classical music and his journey with it thus far. He also shares how music was a huge part of his family through generations, his sources of inspirations, and more.
Hello! Please tell us a little about yourself.
My name is Ungrumso Raman (27) from Mapao Zingtun, Manipur, living in Imphal. I did my Bachelors in Fine Arts [Applied Arts] from the College of Art, Delhi University in 2013 and currently preparing for Licentiate Trinity College of London in Classical Guitar having completed Grade 8 from Delhi School of Music. I taught Classical and acoustic guitar for 3 years in Delhi School of Music, New Delhi and Institute of Music Dynamics, Gurgaon. I’m presently a Guitar instructor, choir director, and art teacher at ‘Needy Home Academy’ in Mapao Zingtun and while also giving Classical Guitar performances at various events. I also give private guitar classes in between my schedule.
So what exactly is Western Classical Guitar, and what got you started in this genre of music?
I believe Western Classical Guitar originated way back in the 16th century in Spain. In the early days, classical guitar came with nylon strings, and was played by plucking each string which sounds like a mini Orchestra or simply a choir singing under your magical fingers. I was introduced to WCG when I was 10 years old by Mr. Bipin Chandra, who was my first guitar teacher. After studying the different fingerstyle techniques of classical guitar, I transcribe songs and Christian hymns in the form of classical guitar pieces by bringing out different melodies for solo performances.
Ungrumso performing at Instituto Cervantes, Spanish Cultural Centre, New Delhi
Ungrumso conducting the children choir of “Needy home academy” during Christmas time at Mapao Zingtun, Manipur
What initially sparked your interest in the field of music?
I loved singing and playing the guitar ever since I was a child, especially during family worships and social gatherings. Seeing my interest and talent in playing the guitar, my parents have been very supportive. I was given opportunities to perform musical pieces on multiple occasions in my school and Church. Since then, I have always wanted to be a performer.
How has your upbringing influenced your work or working style?
Back in 1942, when my grandfather was 23 years old, he embraced music and taught music in his Church and even played the guitar. Through him, my father took interest and bought a Yamaha classical guitar from Singapore in 1993. Now, my Grandfather, who recently celebrated his 100th birthday, along with my family, continues to encourage me to play the guitar.
Ungrumso playing for his grandfather on his 100th birthday celebration
Where do you take inspiration from?
Works of Johann Sebastian Bach, Francisco Tarrega and Fernando Sor deeply inspired me to want to study more intensively and feel the emotion behind each piece. I would listen to Julian Breams in YouTube and his rendition of these composers’ pieces have been inspirational. By conducting the school choir, I have also been able to get more ideas on how different parts work simultaneously to give a vibrant music for my guitar performances.
Is there a particular performance or work that you are extremely happy and proud of?
I was happy to be conferred the winner of the Delhi International Classical Guitar Competition in 2015 . It was an honour to represent India in the 6th Sri Lanka Guitar Festival in 2016. It has been a milestone to give solo performances at prestigious events held at the Korean Cultural Center, New Delhi; Korean Embassy, New Delhi and Instituto Cervantes, New Delhi, on various occasions.
Ungrumso performing on stage at Korean Culture Centre, New Delhi
What do you hope people take away from your Music?
During the initial learning period, I practice for an hour and eventually, it extended to 5-8 hours daily. It has taken me 7 years to professionally train myself as a classical guitarist to be where I am today.
Classical music has taught me to be patient, disciplined, humble, gentle and have a positive outlook of life. Classical music is about performing with grace and elegance. I would like to encourage upcoming music enthusiasts to focus on one instrument until you master it rather than being a jack of all trades and mastering none.
Ungrumso with his Kid students at Mapao Zingtun, Manipur
“As an artist/painter, I also paint landscapes, portraits and make seasonal cards and other artworks.” ~Ungrumso Raman
Tell us about your latest work or any upcoming project.
I have recently launched a music institution for guitar at Emmanuel Multipurpose Building, Laimanai-Langol, Imphal. I am also working on the release of the recording album of the Needy Home Academy School choir. I have collaborated with few local artists in their music/video album.
Follow Ungrumso Raman on Instagram to know him and his work better. Here’s a clip of Ungrumso playing Fernando Sor.
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