Ashraf Sharif Khan was born in 1969 in Lahore, Pakistan, the son of the renowned sitar master Ustad Muhammad Sharif Khan Poonchwala. Like his father and grandfather, Ashraf Sharif Khan belongs to the illustrious Poonch Gharana school of traditional sitar.
Ashraf’s music combines an astonishing technical proficiency with perfection in musical expression. The melodic beauty of his style, accentuated by his dynamic rhythmic development and the virtuoso technique, produce a unique musical experience, equally appreciable to novices and connoisseurs of South Asian music.
His music transcends regional boundaries, and is accessible to all.
“I believe that music is the perfect medium to express emotion”, he explains. “In the music of South Asia, each piece (raga) embodies a particular mood, season, or time of day. In every performance I try to use the music and the instrument to capture the feeling in my heart and to convey this to my audience, so that they can feel in that moment what I am feeling. If I succeed in this, the music seems to take on a life of its own, moving me, and, I hope, the audience.”
Following his first public performance at the age of eleven, Ashraf toured throughout Pakistan. In 1990, he was awarded the Khwaja Khurshid Anwar Prize and the Hazrat Amir Khusran Prize. In 1992, he was chosen to represent Pakistan at the International Sound Celebration Festival in Louisville, Kentucky (USA).
In 1997, he received the Colombo University Kelaniya Award (Sri Lanka). In 1999, he performed at the prestigious Medina Festival in Tunis, at the Sugar Hall in Okinawa, Japan, at the Symphony Space in New York, and at the Cairo Opera House in Egypt.
Since 2000 Ashraf Sharif Khan has mainly lived in Hamburg and Oslo.
Performances in various European cities alongside many international musicians led to new projects in the areas of jazz and world music, for example with Terlog Gurthu, Nasil Shama and Tina Tandler. Ashraf has headlined and performed at numerous festivals, including Arabesque in Montpellier, Monde Arabe in Montreal, Oslo Mela World Festival, Fusion in Neustrelitz, Oberjazz in Hamburg, Kharky in Tunis, Tahzeeb in Karachi and the All Pakistan Music Conference in Lahore.
He has also been a frequent guest on Norwegian, British and Pakistani television and radio, starred in the film Enzo Avitabile Music Life (2012) by Oscar-winning director Jonathan Demme, and released four studio and live albums. He teaches classical South Asian music at the Norwegian Academy of Music in Oslo.