A Hindustani classical birthday celebration

Starry night: Zakir Hussain will give a solo recital, before being joined onstage by Shiv Kumar Sharma.

Starry night: Zakir Hussain will give a solo recital, before being joined onstage by Shiv Kumar Sharma.  

As Pandit Arvind Parikh completes 90 years, Ustad Zakir Hussain and Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma will pay him a musical tribute.

On Saturday evening, two great Hindustani classical artistes will pay tribute to their venerated senior Pandit Arvind Parikh in light of his 90th birthday. In a rare gesture, tabla maestro Zakir Hussain will give a solo recital, before being joined onstage by santoor genius Shiv Kumar Sharma.

In addition to their backgrounds in Hindustani classical music and their inimitable prowess in translating life’s experiences on their respective instruments, the stalwarts have many other things in common. Sharma is a great composer and had made a mark as a tabla player in the early phase of his musical journey.

Hussain too is a prolific composer, as was his father-guru Ustad Alla Rakha Khan, credited in Bollywood as music director A.R. Qureshi. “My father would say, ‘To be good at tabla, you should also be able to sing’,” the tabla maestro said in a previous interview. “If I don’t know the composition, lyrics, their meaning, mood, words’ syllables, it is impossible to accompany. It entails knowing your craft with all the shades it has to offer.”

Then there’s santoor maestro Sharma, who hails from a family of scholarly Kashmiri Pundits who, as the members of the royal court, enjoyed the company of learned priests and educationists. At an early age, Sharma was exposed to scriptures and their inner philosophy pretty early in life. “Spirituality and music are like two faces of the same coin; ek hi sikke ke do pehlu hain,” he says. “Simply because our music is an integral part of the Naad-yoga. I play with the aloofness of a spectator (‘drashta-bhaav’) despite being totally engrossed in my music. In fact, what I sing inwards gets translated on my instrument.”

Like all their performances and even with the upcoming one, the musicians tap into their instrument’s ability to emanate the essence of its artiste’s persona.

“It is very difficult for Indian musicians to explain how we perform on stage spontaneously,” says Hussain. “There is nothing that can describe a package or manual called riyaaz (ensuring great results). My father had [said to] me, ‘Identify what you do best and what you are comfortable with. And make that the core of your expression. That will help you define yourself as an individual musician, with your own identity. Keep an eye on the sam (first beat). Drive, run, fly; do whatever you can, but you must know where to arrive, instinctively!’”

Zakir Hussain and Shiv Kumar Sharma will perform at 6.30 p.m. today at the NCPA.

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Printable version | Apr 2, 2020 10:07:39 PM |

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