Thursday, June 9, 2016

Ambar Gurung: A Great Maestro

Rabin Man Shakya
Former Associate Editor, The Rising Nepal

Judging by the comments in the social media sites and blog posts, president of Nepal Bidya Devi Bhandari as well as prime minister K P Oli - by not attending the funeral or at least by not paying last respects to late Ambar Gurung - have created the latest outbreak of controversy that the composer of Nepal's national anthem "Sayau Thunga Phulka Hami Yeutai Mala Nepali" has been ignored by the government even after the death.

So what was the reason that late Gurung was ignored even after his death? With all the credentials to become the national star of Nepal, Ambar probably had some bad qualifications - he came from a Gurung family and he was not associated with any political party!

The fans of Nepalese music in Nepal and all over the world are deeply moved by the sad news of Ambar Gurung's demise.

Ambar was one of the bright stars in the constellation of talented Nepalese artistes. Therefore, his demise is a great loss to the nation. My sincere tributes to the man who dedicated himself to enhance, develop and enrich Nepalese music.

Still when I was with The Rising Nepal, I had the privilege and honor to take an interview with the renowned luminary in 1994 at his office at the Royal Nepal Academy in Kathmandu. It was during that encounter with the great impresario that I came to know about a lot of details on his life and his creative activities.

Maestro Ambar was talented and erudite. He had a gift for music. He was honest, outspoken and had strong opinions, and he was not afraid to express them.

The late maestro has had significant triumph in his long career: He had the honor of composing the national anthem of Nepal, he rendered music to more than 1,000 Nepalese songs, he composed music for first Nepali operas Malati Mangale, Muna Madan and Kunjini.

"Nau Lakh Tara Udaye", "Timi Bhulma Paryau", "Ma Ambar Hun, Timi Dharti" and "Ye Kancha Thataima Yo Bainsha Jaan Lagyo" are some of the amazing songs composed by late Ambar Gurung.

"Ye Kancha Thataima Yo Bainsha Jaan Lagyo" vocalized by Narayan Gopal and Tara Devi has always been one of my most favourite songs ever. I used to listen to that song in Nepal and here in Portland, Oregon, USA I still enjoy listening that song over and over again in the CD player and in the YouTube.

Ambar and his relatives were natives of Gorkha district, but Ambar was born in Darjeeling, India on Feb 26, 1938. Late King Mahendra had invited him to Kathmandu in 1969 to help establish and chair the music department of the newly established Royal Nepal Academy. Ambar's signature accomplishment came at the Royal Nepal Academy where he worked for 30 years.

The late maestro has been awarded with Indra Rajya Laxmi Pragya Puraskar, Jagadamba Shree Puraskar, Chhinnalata Puraskar, Gorkha Dakshina Bahu and so on. And there are three books written by the great virtuoso:(1) Samaalera Rakha  (2) Achherka Awajharu and (3) Kaha Gaye Ti Dinharu.

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