In a rare concert, Amjad Ali Khan and Zakir Hussain to promote global peace, harmony

The musical duo will be performing together after more than a decade

Updated - December 07, 2022 07:24 pm IST

Published - December 07, 2022 02:27 am IST - New Delhi

Ustad Amjad Ali Khan (right) and Ustad Zakir Hussain performing at the Savannah Music Festival in Georgia in 2010.

Ustad Amjad Ali Khan (right) and Ustad Zakir Hussain performing at the Savannah Music Festival in Georgia in 2010. | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

In a rare meeting of maestros, Amjad Ali Khan and Zakir Hussain will perform together after more than a decade on Wednesday at a concert at New Delhi’s Siri Fort Auditorium.

The sarod player told The Hindu the concert was dedicated to world peace and harmony. “We thought that after the pandemic, the world would learn from its mistakes but the Russia-Ukraine war shows that it hasn’t.” Mr. Khan added that music is a therapy that would make people more compassionate. “It is the need of the hour in our country. I want schools to have a session of sa re ga ma pa in the morning assembly as the seven notes connect us to our soul,” he said.

On what took them so long to perform together, Mr. Khan said, “We have become too expensive. We remain connected but somehow a concert doesn’t work out. In Delhi, he said, the tendency had been to organise concerts that are free for the audience. “Certain organisations seek government funding to keep it free for public. This time, a ticketed show has been attempted and I have been told that it is sold out. A free concert amounts to humiliation of classical music, which along with folk music, is the identity of India on the global stage,” he said.

‘A complete artist’

Describing Mr. Hussain as a “complete artist”, Mr. Khan who has played with the tabla maestro’s father Ustad Allah Rakha as well, said no tabla maestro of any era got the kind of following that he has achieved during his lifetime. He reminisced that Mr. Hussain had donated the tabla of his legendary ancestor, Miyan Qadir Baksh, to the Sarod Ghar museum that is run by Ustad Hafiz Ali Khan Trust and housed in Mr. Khan’s ancestral family house in Gwalior.

Mr. Hussain said he hadn’t had the “opportunity to play with Khan sahab for almost a decade” but performing with him has always been special. “He skillfully combines the elements of rhythm and melody and understands how to bring out the best qualities of the tabla accompanist in the concert,” said Mr. Hussain, adding he was looking forward to the concert with excited anticipation.

On how would they play without a rehearsal, Mr. Khan said this was the beauty of Indian classical music that it didn’t require a structured approach like the western classical music. “In western classical music, there is a composer, a conductor and a performer. In our stream, the three are rolled into one and we play under the guidance of a cosmic power. So whatever, we play, is unique for that particular audience and could not be repeated if not recorded.” “That this is not pre-fixed music makes it challenging and exciting, said Mr Hussain. “The moment will reveal the process and content.”

‘Sarod in safe hands’

Instrumental music is in demand and Mr. Khan said sarod was in safe hands with more than 500 players taking the instrument to a global audience. “Being fretless, sarod’s tonal quality has more depth than sitar and is ideal to play the meend that defines Hindustani classical music.”

For Mr. Khan, the concert is all the more special as his grandchildren are going to watch him perform live. “The pandemic came as a disaster for the entertainment industry but for our family there is one positive. My grandsons have started taking keen interest in sarod and they want me to play fast. Let’s see if I live up to their expectations,” said Mr. Khan.

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