As WOMADelaide fervour winds down in South Australia, Nexus Arts is gearing up for a very special performance of Indian Classical music with world-renowned sitar player Ustad Shujaat Khan, accompanied by Jay Dabgar on tabla.
If you think that classical Indian music might not be your cup of tea, it’s time you have a rethink and more importantly – a listen. It takes just a few moments before many realise there is a nagging sense of familiarity when it comes to the sounds of the sitar. Thanks to the popularity surge that sitar music rode into western consciousness in the 60s, this stringed instrument is astonishingly prevalent in popular music. From the thrash metal of Metallica and prog-rockers Tool to Elton John, The Mamas and The Papas, Elvis Presley, The Kinks and Guns N’ Roses – we could name heaps more, but it was really George Harrison, of The Beatles fame who brought this ancient Indian musical practice to the masses.
Taught by the inimitable Ravi Shankar, George, and The Beatles were to be the harbinger of Indian Classical music to western ears.
The History of Indian Classical Music
As with many musical transitions and cultures, there is no exact date of when the classical Indian music genre came into play. It is intrinsically linked to culture, tradition, and religion. Loosely divided, it encompasses three periods: ancient, medieval and modern. The focus is on percussion and stringed instruments; including the tabla (drums) and the sitar (lute).
Jay Dabgar says: “I am looking forward so much to performing with one of the most iconic sitar maestros of Indian classical music”.
The music has evolved over thousands of years of Indian culture, from its heyday with the Moghuls, before retreating to folk music thanks to the British takeover. The evolution has seen many cultural influences and challenges – from surges of royal popularity to peasant music to being championed by The Beatles – yet the tradition has stayed strong, evolved and grown, blending with diverse cultures.
Sitar master Ustad Shujaat Khan, has travelled the world performing in Asia, Africa, North America and Europe. His approach is intuitive, fresh and spontaneous, always astonishing his audiences. Nexus Arts is thrilled to showcase the intricacies and beauty of this ancient practice with Ustad Khan on stage alongside renowned tabla player Jay Dabgar.
Playing in Adelaide at Nexus Arts as part of a national tour, and supported by Multicultural Arts Victoria.