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Classical music facing cultural aggression: Amjad Ali Khan

Sarod maestro Amjad Ali feels that the classical music is facing a lot of 'cultural aggression' in India.

Written by Agencies | New York |
March 31, 2010 2:15:13 pm

Sarod maestro Amjad Ali feels that the classical music is facing a lot of “cultural aggression” in India and it is a miracle that the young generation is still interested in preserving the tradition.

“I have been seeing the cultural aggression gradually in our country. It is two hundred television channels versus traditional art whether classical music or theatre or dance,” Khan said.

“I’m seeing today that the generation of Amaan and Ayaan…if they are playing classical music it is God’s wish because there is so much temptations around…it is a miracle,” he added.

Khan points out that while the niche audience of classical music is still alive in the country,the decline in the number of concerts,especially in North India,is cause for worry. “In West Bengal,there used to be 30-40 festivals,now there is only one,” he said.

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The 64-year-old musician will perform at Columbia University’s Miller Theater on April 2 with his two sons Amaan and Ayaan. It is a pleasant homecoming for Khan,who last played at the theatre in 1997. He is here on a special request by university students.

“I am looking forward to the concert because I feel it is very important to share our traditional art,classical music especially,with the students,” Khan said.

The young maestros,however,have a slightly different perspective on the matter. Amaan,32,believes that the dip in the classical music enthusiasts is not the result of westernisation but rather a decline in the quality of musicians in the nation.

“After my father’s generation,there has been a gap. The musicians today do not match up to the people’s expectations,” Amaan said. “If we’re aping the West,it’s because we have little to offer.”

Ayaan,30 also stressed that the trajectory of a classical musician cannot really be compared to mainstream artistes that have more of a hit-or-miss route.

“The growth of a classical musician is very very gradual. You’re not a pick of the season,which is very much the scene in the pop world or the rap world,” Ayaan said. “But for classical music,one concert will not stage my arrival or my departure.”

Khan emphasized the importance of playing solo but said that it was real treat for audience to see the trio combine forces during a performance. “We really enjoy those moments,” he said.

Both Amaan and Ayaan have also experimented with bringing the sarod into the space of different musical genres like lounge and electronic but stay true to the spirit of the classical music.

“We strike a balance because I would never want to be known as a fusion artist,” said Ayaan,noting that for the past three decades America has been a great place to celebrate classical music from across the globe.

“The US has heard the best of the classical world because you have the crème de la crème come and perform especially in New York,” he said,adding that perhaps there are more Indian classical shows in Chicago than in Calcutta.

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First published on: 31-03-2010 at 02:15:13 pm

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