Confluence of three musical worlds

Classical notes

Confluence of three musical worlds

You can attend a concert of either Indian classical music -- complete with tabla, harmonium and a sitar, or else, a show of Western classical compositions which could include a piano as well. But rarely, does one get to enjoy a combined show of Indian and Western classical music which includes some Sufi kalaams too!

Recently, Delhiites were treated to a recital of near-extinct Hindustani musical instruments Sarangi and Esraj by the illustrious brothers Kashif Ahmed Khan and Arshad Khan, deftly accompanied by Deepak Castelino on Spanish Guitar, Peter Alfonso on keyboard and Ashwini Verma on drums. The show, organised by legendary Dilruba-Esraj player Ustad Allaudin Khan’s foundation Cosmic Art, was held at the India Habitat Centre, and suitably titled ‘Project Jazz Raga.’

The brothers - Kashif, Arshad as well as Amjad on tabla - first began with raag Yaman. The three performed together and then the spotlight also alternated between them as they displayed their skills;  later, Deepak, Alfonso and Ashwini played the same raag on their traditionally-conceived-as Western instruments and surprised the audience. Next, the two troupes rendered a fusion piece on raag raageshwari filling the audience with a previously-unheard, unusual and yet unforgettable melody.

The sole vocalist – famed singer Dr Radhika Chopra ably supported them with at least two compositions – Meri saanson ko jo mehka rahi hai in raag Puryadhanashri and Pyaar ki saari misaalon pe tera naam likhoon in raag raageshwari. Her nightingale-like voice left listeners yearning for more. The troupe then closed the programme with Bulle Shah’s much-loved kalaam Ni main jaana jogi de naal and Amir Khusro’s timeless Chhaap tilak sab chheeni.

Amjad Khan explained, “Last year, while performing at an international music festival, we noticed that the jazz troupe which winded up just before us was playing an Indian raga, though completely unaware. At the same time, it sounded beautiful and made us realise that a confluence was possible.” Peter Alfonso agreed, “Till date, my group has mostly played for a Western audience, but this show turned out great, we have got a very encouraging response and hope to repeat it as soon as possible.”

The audience, of course, just couldn’t have enough. Vikramjeet Singh, a member said, “This concert turned out to be a pleasant surprise and I loved the way they put it together. Esraj and Sarangi playing with guitar and keyboard – who would have thought of it before? But the Sufi part was the best. It was like three different musical worlds coming together. I really hope it happens more often.”

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