When Gil Shohat,an Israeli pianist and conductor of the Israeli Chamber Orchestra played alongside the young Indian tabla player Akram Khan four years ago,he knew instinctively that he would share a special bond with Indian classical music for the rest of his life. Indian music is thousands of years old and rooted in tradition in spite of its oral legacy. Also,for me,the tabla is the king of drums, says Shohat,35,who was in Delhi to perform with Khan at a concert at the Ashok Hotel,organised by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations and the Embassy of Israel.
Shohat gained a reputation of being a formidable talent in Israel after his opera,Alpha and Omega,also regarded as one of the largest opera productions in Israel. About his performance in India,Shohat says,I am Jewish and I am playing with a Muslim musician to spread the message of harmony,peace and unification.
A musician by choice but a conductor by accident,Shohat first held the baton at the age of 17 when the actual orchestra conductor had a heart attack. Apart from playing the staple symphonies by Beethoven and Mozart,he has worked on original compositions as well,one titled The Storm that was composed by him at the age of 12 and has always been well received by the audience and critics alike. Shohat has composed nine large-scale symphonies and four operas,apart from several chamber and piano pieces. I try to break from the traditions of modernist music while staying true to a central melody and with Khan,our improvisations blend so well, says Shohat as he goes into a reverie,while playing a piece that resonates like an old O P Nayyar song.