Padmashree Ustad Rashid Khan’s Sydney Concert: An Ensemble of Virtuosos

By Aradhana Bhatt

It was an impasse, a predicament:   Which one of the stunning six to applaud more, as they rose to take their final bow when Ustad Rashid Khan’s ”˜Aaoge jab tum Sajana..’ concluded his concert on the evening of Sunday April 8 at Sir John Clancy Auditorium.

Ustad Rashid Khan opened the evening with a leisurely rendition of Raga Puriya Dhanashree, a twilight melody. He sang ”˜Ab to Rut maan’-set to Vilambit-slow tempo Ektaal, followed by ”˜Paaylaiya Jhankaar’, a Madhya-laya- medium tempo Teentaal and finished off the pre-interval session with a Tarana in Drut ”“fast tempo Ektaal. True to his singing tradition, the Rampur-Sahaswan Gharana, his technically perfect Taan and Layakari, combined with the emotional-sensuous aalap had the audience in awe. The second half of the concert was a delightful mosaic of melodies of the light classical genre. A Pahari Thumri from the tradition of the legendary Bade Gulam Ali Khan, and the melancholic ”˜Yaad Piya ki Aaye’ were followed by the concluding popular movie number ”˜Aaoge Jab Tum Saajanaa’. The audience wanted more when they were almost jolted back into the real world with the artists standing up to receive the final applause.   

Dressed in rainbow coloured Kurtas, the five accompanists did justice to the energetic yet soulful ”˜gayaki’ of Ustadji. Padmashree Pt. Vijay Ghate, a tabla player who makes the tabla sing, is one of its foremost exponents on the contemporary Hindustani music scene. As an accompanist he displays immense sensitivity and restraint. He was brilliant and graceful as usual. Pt Ajay Joglekar on the harmonium and Ustad Murad Ali, who has Sarangi ingrained in him for six generations were equally ingenious. Rashid Khan’s two disciples, Nagnath Adgaonkar and Armaan Khan who provided vocal support were a testament to their Ustad’s teaching prowess. Sixteen year old Armaan Khan, whose vocal chords have just touched manhood, stole the hearts of many in the audience, as he coyly sang interludes with his father-Ustad Rashid Khan.

Rekha Rajvanshi briefly introduced the artists at the beginning. As the proverbial saying goes, an Indian concert is not completely true to its nature if it runs on time. This one was no exception and the delay had a few grumbling mouths prior to the start. Some in the audience thought that the performance ended abruptly, much before the audience reached satiety. Well, it is about time we, the Indian audiences, reflect on and revise our concepts, because we live in times when less is more and the word ”˜time’ has gained a whole new context. One may not have come across a Western Classical concert lasting over two hours. Yes, gone are the days when Indian Classical concerts lasted till the wee hours of the morning. These are the new age Indian artists, performing to a global audience.

Aalap Inc ought to be commended on their second successful event of this type, their first being Kaushiki Chakraborty last year. Devout listeners of Hindustani Classical music will look forward to many more.       

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