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Concert Preview: Ustad Amjad Ali Khan

August 2007
Concert Preview: Ustad Amjad Ali Khan

When the legendary Amjad Ali Khan and his sons perform at the Fox Theater this month, it will be unlike just another Indian concert night. The Khans will become ambassadors of the richness of Indian classical music to an audience expected to consist of the President and COO of The Coca-Cola Company along with Congressmen and Senators and senior executives of leading corporations.

"When Amjad Ali Khan performs he carries with him a deep human spirit, a warm feeling and a sense of caring." - His Holiness the Dalai Lama

"It was like watching an Indian classical answer to Eric Clapton ? Amjad Ali Khan may be a master of the sarod rather than the guitar, but it was easy to see why great Indian music can be as exciting as classic blues and rock." - The Guardian, London 2005.

Accolades abound for Ustad Amjad Ali Khan, one of the most admired musical geniuses to emerge out of India: Padma Vibhushan (Highest Indian civilian award); Unicef's National Ambassadorship; The Crystal Award by the World Economic Forum; the Gandhi UNESCO Medal in Paris for his composition Bapukauns; the "Commander of the Order of Arts and letters" by the French Government; and the Fukuoka Cultural Grand Prize in Japan are just a few of the many high praises and awards adorned on the maestro.

It was Amjad Ali Khan's great-great-great grandfather, Mohammad Hashmi Khan Bangash, a musician and horse trader, who came to India with the Afghan rabab – a wooden Central Asian lute covered with skin. His grandfather Nanhe Khan and father Hafiz Ali Khan, continued the family legacy and kept improving and altering the rabab, until it became the modern Sarod.

The modern Sarod is smaller than the Sitar. It's the skin, and the fact that it's a fretless instrument where the strings are pulled at by nails, that gives a strong vocal sound to the tonal quality of the instrument. Fine tuned to bring the influences of Indian, Afghan and Persian culture and music together into a rich, deeply resonant experience, today Ustad Amjad Ali Khan's music on this instrument has broken all barriers, enthralling audiences worldwide.

He was just six years old when Amjad Ali Khan gave his first recital. Today he reveals six generations of the Senia Bangash legacy through his music. He has marked over fifty years of playing, and to this day Khan's touch on the Sarod creates notes that flow with crystal clarity, elegance and astounding beauty. He has created many new ragas, new innovations, but has always remained within the rich and seamless tradition of Indian classical music.

Every concert, every class presented by him to acquaint America of his rich heritage, has only one purpose, "to convey the message that in our music you can see and feel the freedom within the discipline." What surprises the audience abroad, about Indian classical music, says the maestro, is that there is no notation; and that during a solo performance, the composer, conductor, and performer is one person.

His sons Amaan and Ayaan Ali Khan represent the seventh generation of master musicians. Not only have they emerged as worthy successors of their father's rich legacy, they have taken Sarod to new dimensions, by presenting the instrument as a rich treasure house in the genre of lounge music. Yet the experimentation remains within the tradition of classical music. The proud father says, "Today people hear us, and their love inspires us to greater heights. I love to perform with my sons. When the three of us play together its like a living tradition alive on stage and a unique experience for people."

The Georgia Indo-American Chamber of Commerce is the host of the event and The Coca-Cola Company is the grand sponsor. Coke, which has made global excellence, optimism, positivism and corporate social responsibility its key theme, also considers it a matter of great pride to present outstanding artists of the highest caliber, and promote art and culture in the society.


Venue: The Fox Theater: (404) 881-2100

Date: September 15, 2007.

Tickets: VIP- $100 - $75 - $50 - $25 - GIACC Members will get 20% discount. visit: www.GIACC.org/concert.html

Contact: Narsi Narasimhan, President-Elect, GIACC. 404-488-7310. narsi@paalam.com

Stan Sthanunathan. ssthanunathan@na.ko.com

By Kavita Chhibber

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