A Musical Celebration of Lights & Life

The Indo-American Arts Council announces the Music of Lights and Life Concert on November 3 2018 7:30PM at the magnificent Peter Jay Sharp Theatre, Symphony Space. Maestro Amjad Ali Khan will be joined by Amaan Ali Bangash and Ayaan Ali Bangash on the Sarod. Accompanying them will be Amit Kavthekar and Anubrata Chatterjee on the Tabla.

Maestro Amjad Ali Khan needs no introduction with NYTimes calling him “The most charismatic performer of Indian Ragas….”  and The Guardian declaring him to be “the finest living exponent of the sarod” . He is India’s most celebrated classical musician and an undisputed master of the Sarod, a stringed instrument used in classical Indian music. He is the seventh generation of musicians playing the same instrument, being heir to a long and distinguished musical lineage. He gave his first performance at age six and has since performed his own compositions with the finest orchestras and ensembles in venues around the world, including an acclaimed performance at the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize Concert in Norway.  The Grammy-nominated musician has won many prestigious awards including the Crystal Award at the World Economic Forum, UNICEF’s National Ambassadorship, and India’s prestigious awards, the Padma Vibhushan and the Sangeet Natak Academi award for music.

Based on his belief that music transcends all, he has broadened the appeal of Indian music and its spirit throughout the world, transcending race, region and generation. In the current political climate, there is even more reason to find commonality and feel inclusive. Human emotions are universal and are the common thread binding us as a community. Khan affirms “Since my childhood, I always wanted my instrument, the Sarod to be able to express the entire range of human emotions…to Sing, Shout, Whisper and cry. All the emotions! It has been a long journey so far and by the benevolence of the heavens, the Sarod has become far more expressive than it was 35 years ago.”

Khan is an exponent of a tradition that dates back many years. But Khan is no prisoner to tradition: he composes his own ragas and seeks out western musicians for collaboration. He says “It is hard for an Indian classical musician to mention the Ragas or the Taals (rhythmic cycles) before hand because the decisions are made very near to the concert date, perhaps on the day of the concert itself! Since we don’t have a written score, it also has something to do with the accommodation of moods and emotions of an artist on that day.  I treat every Raga like a living entity. A mere scale is not a Raga. A scale is more like a skeleton. Even though the literal meaning of a Raga is Improvisation within a set framework of ascending and descending notes, I feel a Raga has to be invoked.“

“Maestro Amjad Ali Khan is a living legend and a national treasure of Indian music. We are fortunate to have him perform a bespoke repertoire for us on Diwali along with his two illustrious sons Amaan and Ayaan Ali Bangash. Their 57 strings will together make the festival of lights even more special this year for the Indian diaspora.” – Anurag Harsh, Board of Directors, IAAC.

Here is a snippet from the review of their recent performance “All the performers were very gifted and talented musicians who masterfully brought out the voices and souls of their instruments. With their music, they transformed daily life into an extraordinary experience…I felt engaged, invigorated, alive, excited and at the same time very calm…Maybe the best way to describe sarod music is to quote the young man who sat next to me at the concert: ‘Listening to this music is like reaching Nirvana.’ ”

Khan believes that “there are only two types of music.  One is pure sound (which is the purest form) other kind of music is based on the literature, text, lyrics, story etc.  There is an old saying “language creates barriers”.   Through pure sound of the instruments or voice one cannot lie or abuse a person. Music has to be felt and experience. I personally admire and respect the beautiful poetry or the messages of the great Saints.  But I live in the world of sound.  It is only through sound that I feel the presence of (God) the Supreme Being. ”

Khan has had a long association with New York. In his own words, “ New York holds a very special place in my heart and my association with this city goes back nearly fifty five years. Today, I feel so happy to see the awareness and love that Indian music has generated over the period of time, especially in this part of the world.”

On Nov 3, the concert will be in three segments where they will present both evening and night ragas celebrating the Festival of Lights. The first half will feature Khan’s Sarod Solo. Post intermission, there will be a Sarod Duet by Amaan Ali Bangash  and Ayaan Ali Bangash. The last segment will be a Sarod Trio, where he will be assisted by two Sarods. This segment is an example of a living tradition that has been passed on from father to son for generations. Khan will take turns and interact with both the young artists. They will perform a Raga in this segment from the south Indian system of classical music. Incidentally, India is the only country that has two systems of classical music i.e. of the north and of the south.

“It is our honor to host Maestro Amjad Ali Khan and his sons at IAAC. They have orchestrated a very uplifting and energizing concert for us on Diwali bringing Ragas from both the North as well as South Indian traditions of Indian music” – Dr Nirmal Mattoo, Chairman of the Board, IAAC

Nov 3 2018 7:30PM
Peter Jay Sharp Theatre at Symphony Space
Upper Level, 2537 Broadway, New York, NY 10025

7:30PM Address by IAAC Chair
8:00PM  Concert
10:00PM Reception
10:30PM Dinner
Press is invited to interview the artists during the pre and post reception at Symphony Space. Must RSVP to suman.gn@iaac.us. Press check-in by 7PM.


Tickets are available on the Symphony Space website at http://bit.ly/AAKConcert and also on the IAAC website at iaac.us.

VIP tickets are available over phone by calling (646) 907-8022.


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