`Music, a dialogue'

How come you settled in the U.S.?

Since the age of 16, I have been touring the world. Initially, I lived in Germany and England, and also for several years in Italy. I was based in England for nearly 25 years, performing regularly at prestigious festivals, on the BBC, etc. In 2003, I was invited by the University of California at Los Angeles to teach. I have been based in America since.

Is there enough interest in Indian classical music in the U.S. for an artiste to feel `at home' away from his roots?

Yes, there is a lot of interest in the West in both the U.S. and Europe, and some of us artistes have been promoting Indian classical music. This year I received a Congressional Recognition Award by the U.S. Congress, in recognition of my work.

How would you describe your approach to music?

To me, collaborating with other musicians and music forms is a personal and intentional choice. I only play with artistes with whom I know I can strike a dialogue through my psyche, my instincts, and my creativity. I do not believe in putting sounds in a box, shaking it and calling it music. It is truly, without being a clich�, a dialogue between people, aesthetics that touch us first and then our listeners.

What was your training like?

My guru is my father, Ustad Imrat Khansahab. My taleem was extremely strict. Being the eldest, my taleem was mostly by myself. I would practise up to 10 -11 hours a day. In between having fun, like seeing films and going out with friends, I had to put in 10 hours a day and I did that. At one point, I did my chilla, which is a significant and spiritual part of Indian musical culture, where you do nothing but play music.

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