Music growing in young Indians: Ustad Amjad Ali Khan

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United Nations: Sarod maestro Ustad Amjad Ali Khan says he is pleased to see that India now has a growing number of young musicians and artists who are extremely talented in playing classical instruments like the sarod, tabla and sitar.

The maestro, accompanied by his sons Amaan Ali Khan and Ayaan Ali Khan, performed here yesterday at the ‘Music for Peace’ concert, organised by the UN Academic Impact and the Indian mission to the UN co-inciding with Nowruz, the spring festival marking the Iranian New Year.

Khan said he is “very happy” to see youngsters in India turning to music, adding that technology and social media has proved to be an advantage for them. “I am very happy that there are many musicians in India in Amaan and Ayaan’s generation, much more than what we had several years ago. We have very talented young sitar and table players, vocalists and dancers. All of them are at an advantageous situation because of the growth of technology and online platforms which we did not have earlier,” Khan said in an interview.

He said sarod is also becoming popular day by day because of its appealing sound and quality. ”Today in India there are a lot of Sarod players, maybe I inspired them,” he said. Highlighting the role of music in promoting peace, Khan said he is keen to see music being used as a means to spread peace and tranquility in the world.

“We are very keen that through music there should be peace all over. So many countries like Syria, Egypt today are facing war,” he said as he dedicated his concert to world peace and harmony.

In the US for the past one month, the maestro and his sons have performed to packed auditoriums in Massachusetts, Ithaca, California and Indiana. Amaan and Ayaan gave duet performances to packed halls at the prestigious Getty Centre in Los Angeles.

Khan’s elder son Amaan said the audience in the US for the sarod is big and growing. ”I don’t understand when people say music is going down the drain. It depends on how one presents the music. Every musician is a good musician, popularity comes later,” Amaan said, adding that he and his younger brother have been very fortunate to have gotten this platform in music because of their father.

The younger sibling described playing at the UN as an honour. ”It is a great honour to be a cultural representative of your country here,” Ayaan said.

The sarod maestro has recently completed recording for a ’Gurbani Album’ which he said is a tribute to Guru Nanak.

The concert at the UN was attended by India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Asoke Mukerji and other envoys and diplomats. Mukerji expressed gratitude to the maestro for his performance, which he said demonstrates the ”innate humanity that binds us all together and that expresses itself through music.”

Khan performed songs including ‘Ekla Chalo Re’ and ’Vaishnava Jana to’ on the sarod. The trio received a standing ovation from the audience at the end of its nearly half hour long performance.

Addressing the audience before his concert, Khan voiced concern over the increasing violence and hatred across the world and said children should be taught at a very young age to be compassionate and kind.

Khan said the contribution of a mother in a child’s life is invaluable, adding that a mother is the “first guru of a child.” ”I feel sad over the way women are treated. I hope women across the world are given proper respect,” he said.

He noted that inspite of so much education in the world, education has not been able to create compassion and kindness in human beings. “We still have hatred and jealousy. There is something wrong in our education system.”

The sarod maestro had performed with his sons at the UN on October 2 last year to commemorate the ‘International Day of Non Violence’ on the occasion of Mahatma Gandhi’s birth anniversary.

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