Ustad Amjad Ali Khan performing at sixth India by the Nile festival – Photo by Fatma Khaled Ustad Amjad Ali Khan performing at sixth India by the Nile festival – Photo by Fatma Khaled

Master of Indian Sarod stages Cairo playing Indian classical music

Sat, Mar. 10, 2018
CAIRO – 10 March 2018: As the dawn approached the weekend upon Cairo’s busy streets legendary Indian Sarod player and musician Ustad Amjad Ali Khan launched the first music performance of the annual “India by the Nile” festival on Thursday, playing some of the well known Indian classical music at the Arab Music Institute in Cairo.

The Indian ambassador in Cairo Sanjay Bhattacharyya attended the concert as Khan led a joint performance with other two percussionists. Khan has a distinguished career of modernizing a special technique in playing the sarod, an Indian instrument, over six decades.

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Indian ambassador in Cairo Sanjay Bhattacharyya during his opening speech – Photo by Fatma Khaled

“India by the Nile showcases the Indian cultural heritage, while also exhibiting the interests it shares with Egypt including music. The festival also features contemporary developments in arts and culture which is very often lost along other parts of art because of the very loud pop culture,” Indian ambassador in Cairo Sanjay Bhattacharyya told Egypt Today.

He also added that Khan is the seventh generation of musicians playing the same instrument and he is often called the maestro of Sarod. The Grammy-nominated musician has won many prestigious awards including the Crystal Award at the World Economic Forum, UNICEF’s National Ambassadorship, and the recent Global Music Award Gold Medal which he won for his contribution to the global music industry and his strong presence in the classical music sphere.

Khan considers his audience to be the soul of his motivation, he previously stated that there are no differences between classical and popular music saying on his official website, “Music is music. I want to communicate with the listener who finds Indian classical music remote."

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Indian classical music performance at sixth India by the Nile festival – Photo by Fatma Khaled

He has collaborated with international musicians on various compositions including a piece he composed for the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra called “Tribute to Hong Kong” among others. Khan is also well known for composing the signature tune for the 48th International Film Festival.

The ambitious musician has a packed portfolio of artistic achievements including writing his first book “My Father, Our Fraternity” which was released in 2012 featuring his rich classical music tradition from the twentieth century to this day and his personal journey he shared with his tutor and father Hafiz Ali Khan who was a prominent Sarod icon.

“Mr. Amjad Ali Khan is one of the best musicians in the Indian classical music which depicts variance as he is able to display tone and music quality through this instrument Sarod. Khan is very absorbed and focused in tune when he plays the Sarod, exhibiting a unique style that carries a special essence if he plays the same melody, the variations are always different,” Lalit Jethwani, one of the Indian attendees of the classical music concert for Khan told Egypt Today on Thursday.

Jethwani plans to attend all the music performances including the Sufi concert partaking the festival’s sixth edition, describing it as a “major highlight” for him. He believes there are many common aspects between Egypt and India including the mentality, legends, folk traditions, and myths saying “there is hardly anything that separates the Indian and Egyptian cultures, we are two great civilizations coming together to share music, art, and photography. The festival is celebrating these similarities, cultural diversity and bond between the two countries.”

“Egypt and India share common strong folklore music and tradition. Indian art features very deep accomplishments in classical context,” added Bhattacharyya commenting on the similarities between Indian and Egyptian cultures.

He pointed out that Indian art is often inspired by the gesture language in the Natya-shastra which is a 2,500 year old principles adapted by all traditional Indian dances, theater and folk performers.

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Indian classical music performance at sixth India by the Nile festival – Photo by Fatma Khaled

India and Egypt has previously collaborated on joint artistic projects including a street art festival where Egyptian contemporary artist Mohamed Abla has taught arts to children in Zamalek.

“We also worked together in the field of music; for instance last year we brought an Indian violinist who cooperated with an Egyptian harpist from the Cairo Orchestra Symphony,” Bhattacharyya added.

A fan of the Egyptian Sufi music and Egyptian folk puppet theater conducted in Upper Egypt and delta, Bhattacharyya announced that both countries will also be collaborating in a new artistic project launching in November revolving around promoting handicrafts in the market through a major exhibition that will be held in Cairo.



One of the interviews in this article is conducted by one of Egypt Today’s reporters Ahmed Abayazid

 
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