By Sukant Deepak
New Delhi, Nov 3 : He may be the youngest member of the famed Maihar Gharana, following in the footsteps of legends like his great-grandfather Ustad Allauddin Khan and grandfather Ustad Ali Akbar Khan, but that does not really make Sarod exponent Shiraz Ali Khan nervous. “I strongly believe that its a calling, your destiny that makes you a part of the legacy. So when that (calling) comes, you go with the flow and give it your best,” he tells IANS.
Adding that coming from an exemplary lineage does translate into humongous expectations and makes the journey more challenging, Khan hopes to impress people with his family’s music using the same discipline of Riyaz and dedication.
The musician, who was recently part of HCL Digital concerts learnt the tabla, an instrument he was fascinated by since childhood under Pt. Shankar Ghosh, but later decided to pursue sarod. “I was drawn to the rhythms of the tabla even when I was two-three years old. Despite not knowing the techniques, the taals and layas came naturally to me. Seeing this, my father, late Prof. Dhyanesh Khan sent me to Pt. Shankar Ghosh to learn the instrument. He was an amazing teacher who had so much to offer — the nuances, styles, taals and so much more. In fact, learning the tabla has helped me enhance the ability of playing the Sarod and making improvisations in different taals,” says Khan.
In fact his father introduced him to Sarod when he was four-five years old and his uncle Ustad Aashish Khan introduced the notes to him. A naturally a left-handed player of the instrument like his great grandfather, the musician lost his father at a young age but continued learning with his aunt, Ameena Perera and thereafter with Ustad Ali Akbar Khan.
“I continue to learn from my uncle, Ustad Aashish Khan, who is my godfather. The teachings/taalim don’t just happen in the classrooms and often carry on to live performances when I learn a new way of approaching the old traditions of our Gharana. It is a continuous learning process and I feel there are miles to cover.”
Mention how young classical musicians are increasing borrowing elements from each other’s gharanas and he insists that though cross-gharana adaptations have been there from ages, but one can easily decipher a musician’s identity even if he is performing with multiple artistes. “It is like a root — a musician’s base and irrespective of which times we live in, you always need a home, an origin from where one comes from. Thus, the gharana will always define a musician’s home and his basic structure from which his musical essence will emanate.”
Adding that the recent times have been extremely challenging for the art and culture fraternity, Khan, who has been busy doing digital concerts, is missing the magic of live. “What can replace the live performances, the live reactions of audiences and their appreciations… However, I am glad that some corporate houses like HCL have shown their social commitment and are organising digital concerts consistently.”
Besides taking online classes for students of Aashish Khan School of World Music, Khan has also done some collaborative music. “I am also foreseeing the ‘new normal’ which will be a hybrid variety of concerts with a blend of physical and digital.”