Sarod maestro Amjad Ali Khan and sons regale Kuwait’s music lovers

By Sajeev K Peter

KUWAIT: Kuwait’s music lovers witnessed a rare musical extravaganza on Sunday when world renowned sarod maestro Ustad Amjad Ali Khan and his sons Amaan Ali Khan Bangash and Ayaan Ali Khan Bangash came together on stage to deliver a mesmerizing concert at GUST auditorium in Mishref on Sunday. Organized by the Indian Business and Professional Council (IBPC) under the patronage of the Indian Embassy, the concert demonstrated the trio’s impressive display of technical prowess and effortless artistry.

In his remarks prior to the concert, Indian Ambassador Dr Adarsh Swaika said the concert was organized as part of the ongoing India-Kuwait cultural exchange program and more such events will be presented in Kuwait in the future. A large number of Kuwaiti dignitaries, resident ambassadors, diplomats and Indian community members including members of IBPC were present during the musical concert.

Ustad Amjad Ali Khan, who is credited with reinventing the technique of playing the sarod, a string instrument of the Indian subcontinent, opened the concert with a masterful solo performance. This was followed by a segment in which his sons Amaan and Ayaan presented a duo performance. In an enthralling finale, the father and the sons performed in unison for a celebration of the sarod, much to the delight of the audience. Noted artiste Anubrata Chatterjee provided rhythm support on tabla.

Ustad Amjad Ali Khan and his sons Amaan Ali Khan Bangash and Ayaan Ali Khan Bangash perform.

“India created Amjad Ali Khan and all the credit goes to my country,” said the maesto in an interview with Kuwait Times. “We have many religions, customs and traditions in India. Every religion and every region of India encouraged and nurtured me. Then the Western world recognized me,” Khan said while talking about his growth and evolution as a world-renowned musician.

As part of the Bangash lineage, he was born into a family of classical musicians and sarod players. He has taken sarod to great heights by collaborating with many Western musicians. Khan has received honorary citizenship of several states of the US, including Texas, Massachusetts and Tennessee, and the cities of Atlanta and Tulsa. Khan was honored with the Padma Shri in 1975, Padma Bhushan in 1991 and Padma Vibhushan in 2001, which is highest civilian award in India.

Musical lineage

“Sarod is a difficult instrument compared to other musical instruments. My forefathers created sarod, which is a Persian word meaning music,” he said. Khan also spoke at length about the legacy of Indian musicians while lauding Indian kings and queens of yesteryears. “They used to patronize musicians in the past. In the 16th century, Tansen was the court musician of Emperor Akbar,” he said. Tansen was born in Gwalior, the birthplace of Khan. However, Khan said unlike politicians, musicians or poets do not get their rightful recognition in India today. “We got inspired how beautifully Beethoven is preserved in Germany and Shakespeare is preserved in England. We could not preserve Mirza Ghalib (an 18th century Indian poet),” he rued, talking about the inspiration for founding Sarod Ghar (House of Sarod).

“So, with the help of the Indian government and Madhya Pradesh state government, we converted our home into a museum called ‘Sarod Ghar’, which was established in Gwalior with an objective to promote classical Indian music, heritage and culture. It houses all the instruments of my forefathers, in addition to my childhood instruments. Many great musicians donated their instruments to the museum,” he said.

Ustad Amjad Ali Khan during the live concert.

Personal equation

Khan has written a book titled ‘Master on Masters’, in which he features 12 musicians who passed away in the recent past, such as Pandit Ravishankar, Bismillah Khan and M S Subbulakshmi, among others. “I have included these musicians with whom I had a personal equation. We have come to this world to give peace, happiness and tranquility,” he added.

After the concert in Kuwait, Khan and his sons will be traveling to the US as part of a musical collaboration tour. “I have formed an orchestra called ‘Samagam’, which means confluence of different cultures. We are collaborating with Sharon Isbin, the world-famous classical guitarist and the founding director of the guitar department at the Juilliard School and a renowned Chinese female musician to hold seven to eight concerts in the US,” he revealed. Khan has also agreed to compose a 45-minute orchestra for the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, in which 60 to 70 musicians will be involved. He said he is hoping to present this composition in Kuwait too in the future.

“Instrumental music transcends all barriers, since there are no lyrics and there is no language barrier between the performer and the listener. And nobody could divide music. Music has connected the world. The seven musical notes ‘do re mi fa sol la si’ will be there in all music, be it Western, folk or Eastern,” Khan said.

The post Sarod maestro Amjad Ali Khan and sons regale Kuwait’s music lovers appeared first on Kuwait Times.

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