Ustad Amjad Ali Khan and his sons, Ayaan and Amaan, were in great form as they transported the audience to a melodic world during their concert in Thiruvananthapuram.
With the growing relevance of the Internet in our lives, as a musician, I feel am the luckiest to be born in this era. From Ghulam Ali Khan to Bjork, your favourite artistes are just a click away. But then, watching it live, literally, is an experience that lingers around for years together. Sarod maestro Ustad Amjad Ali Khan and his two sons, Ayaan and Amaan, were in the capital city to perform for a programme organised by the Sangeetha Nataka Akademi in connection with the 200th birth anniversary of Swati Tirunal. Close to around 7 p.m. in the evening, the auditorium at Co Bank Towers in Thiruvananthapuram was filled with music lovers.
In the darkness of the auditorium, flash lights of different colours shone upon the sarods’ chromed metal body, as the siblings began to tune in.The concert opened with raag Jhinjhoti.
While one would contemplate on how much of diversity they could showcase with one raag, their second composition showed several leaps of a single note from one octave to another.
They played the main melody of the composition for a little while and quickly moved into swift taans, which was coupled with tihais, emphasising the increase in rhythm. When Ayaan was playing taans in double the speed of the tabla, Amaan chose to stick to tisra taans. While doing so, the latter kept cautiously signalling tablist Vijay Ghate to sync together while ending the tihais. Not only was there spontaneous appreciation for each other, but the siblings showcased the musical chemistry between them and how!
After a grand start to the concert with their duet performance, Ustad Amjad Ali Khan came in for his solo performance. For some reason, the crowd was very calm and comfortable in his presence, unlike the excitement you expect at such occasions. His sense of humour was evident as he entertained us with stories and facts, as he kept tuning his sarod. Soon, the introductory alaap of raag Zila Kafi filled the air.
It's nothing too different from raag Kafi, but with strokes of alternative swara combinations, the colour of the raag aroused applause every now and then. With less of chops and more of essence, his playing was a monopoly of dynamics! Soon after, he sang little of a tharana in the same raag and then played it subsequently on the sarod. This piece was followed by 'Ek la chalo re’, a famous folk composition by Tagore.
The maestro then invited both his sons to play along and they concluded the concert with raag Keeravani. It was a complete visual and aural treat, as the Ustad played a piece and one of his sons would replay it, or rather re-improvise on it, simultaneously. The three of them showcased their art in a distinct manner, where the Ustad covered the dynamics and Amaan poured out long intricate patterns. During this, Ayaan harmonised the main melody, thereby bringing in a balance.
A grand tihai by all the of them brought the show to a majestic edge, with the hall reverberating with applause.
Ustadji’s humble approach towards his playing, just shows the undying passion every artiste longs for. The trio did trigger off a great start to the anniversary celebrations and also reminded me of the impact of a live concert in real time.
(Hindustani musician Neha is a playback singer too)