The Well-Tempered Guitar is a series of articles by Yogi Ponappa, based on his blog of the same name. The posts in this series address the life of a performing or practising classical guitarist, and can range from nail shape, to practice methods to serious listening.
Yogi Ponappa is a classical guitarist based in New Delhi, India. He began his music journey in 2010, in New Brunswick, Canada, where he began to transform a lifelong passion for the instrument into a dedicated pursuit. Since 2012, when he moved to India, he has been working to raise the profile of the classical guitar in South Asia by reaching out to new audiences. His debut performance in New Delhi was received warmly by Delhi Music Society Secretary Surojit Banerjee, who noted his “mastery over technique combined with his very sensitive interpretation of major works”.
Yogi’s recent appearances have included numerous performances throughout north India and performances in Sweden and Thailand both as a soloist and in collaborative projects with a wide range of artistes, including Swedish guitarist Johannes Moller, Kathak icon Shovana Narayan, contemporary dancer and choreographer Astad Deboo, and photographer Gunjan Gupta. Other noteworthy appearances in the past year include a concert in tribute to the late icon of Indian cinema Zohra Segal in New Delhi, and a recital for the International Music and Arts Society (IMAS) in Bangalore. Since June of 2015, Yogi has also helped musicians afflicted with focal dystonia return to the stage; he has first-hand experience of both the problem and its resolution, having faced and successfully overcome it in the first half of 2015.
His repertoire includes works by composers that range through history and across continents, from Bach, Chopin, and Tarrega to Barrios, Villa Lobos, Satie, and Pärt, as well as arrangements from hit numbers from the heyday of Indian cinema – this being the result of a commission to play for the gala closing of an Indian film festival in Sweden in 2015. Even when he isn’t playing adaptations of the likes of Mohammed Rafi, Yogi’s wide-ranging interest in different styles is reflected in his programmes, where he juxtaposes Spanish and Latin American classical guitar standards with adaptations of well-known Romantic and modern pieces not often associated with the guitar. His efforts to engage musically with his surroundings over the past few years have given rise to a number of projects, including his original arrangements of works by W A Mozart and Carnatic composer Appaiah Dikshitar for solo guitar performance.
When he isn’t making music, Yogi is an adventurous road cyclist, a voracious reader, and an enthusiastic cook.