Masters of melody

On popular demand: Ustad Zakir Hussain in performance

On popular demand: Ustad Zakir Hussain in performance   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Ustad Zakir Hussain and Ustad Shahid Parvez were in perfect sync at the Raag Mantra Festival

The Raag Mantra Festival organised outside the Qutub Minar was a rare classical music concert that was totally ticketed. The last time a ticketed concert was held in Siri Fort, the hall was half empty. In the words of the organiser Azeem Ahmed Alvi, of Raag Mantra music foundation, “as an artist myself, I respect the craft. I will not organise a concert and not pay full fees to the artist I invite, nor will I offer fine music free, to be taken for granted. Delhi audiences must learn to pay to listen music, the way it used to be.”

The ambience, created with the towering Qutub Minar as the backdrop, was beautiful.

Talented duo

The evening started with the performance of the talented vocalist brother duo of Mehboob Hussain and Fareed Hassan, grandsons of Ustad Nasir Ahmed Khan. Currently under the tutelage of Ustad Iqbal Ahmed Khan, Khalifa of the Delhi gharana, their two Puriya Kalyan khayals were very well appreciated. Azeem Ahmed said, “Such platforms have to be available to young artists too, if they are worthy.”

Ustad Rashid Khan

Ustad Rashid Khan   | Photo Credit: Bharat Tiwari

Ustad Rashid Khan performed next. His Rageshwari was reflective rather than flamboyant; the first vilambit khayal was “pratham swar sa”. The closeness between him and his teenage son Armaan who accompanied him was touching. His compelling “taans” elicited whistles from the crowd, many of whom were hearing a classical music concert for the first time. Ustad Akram Khan on the tabla brought in a humorous note when he remarked, after his mic gave a problem, “mic maane na mori baat”, echoing the lyrics of the second Teen taal khayal! The Ustad ended with a brisk drut (fast speed) ek taal (12-beat) composition. The second raga was a brief Mishra Pahari, the popular “rang saari gulabi chunariya”.

Rare appearance

The grand finale brought Ustad Shahid Parvez Khan and Ustad Zakir Hussain Khan together. The giants were playing in Delhi together after 25 years. In any case, Ustad Zakir Hussain’s concerts in Delhi are fast becoming a rarity. It was an eye opener to hear two young listeners confess that they had come to hear him because of his music in Shakti – a band that had been disbanded before they were even born!

Calming effect

Ustad Shahid Parvez played raga Bageshwari, and then raga Des. His soothing playing style has a soporific effect, from which he suddenly shakes one out with his stunningly crystal clear, amazingly executed lighting speed “taans”. He uses differing “wazan”, (weight) different right hand strokes, “meends” pulled from different directions with masterly craft to subtly enhance his music. One wishes he would play the amazing old compositions his “gharana” is known for, more often.

In deference to his unmatched accompaniment, Ustad Shahid Parvez stressed the “laya” element of his performance; the two Ustads were clearly in sync with each other and a new generation of tabla accompanists could learn from the greatest of them all. The main artist leads the way, the accompanist follows, and enhances the mood created rather than forging into new musical areas.

Ustad Zakir Hussain was implored by a novice listener to please face the audience not Ustad Shahid Parvez, as “she wanted to see his face”. Clearly she had attended concerts where the tabla accompanist erroneously assumed that because of being of equal stature, he did not need to face the main artist. This is not merely a matter of etiquette; it is an actual necessity if you truly are in “sangat”, as you need to maintain eye contact.

This was really a memorable evening, where the ambience was as enjoyable as the music. Azeem Ahmed plans to hold this event annually in December.

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Printable version | Apr 4, 2020 9:15:51 AM |

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