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A fusion with a difference

Sarod maestro Ustad Amjad Ali Khan mixes Christmas carols and hymns with the classical strains of the Sarod.

art and culture Updated: Dec 17, 2007 17:26 IST

Uniquely combining Christmas carols and hymns with the Indian classical strains of the Sarod, Ustad Amjad Ali Khan has composed the yuletide jingles on the traditional musical instrument. Aptly titled "Breaking Barriers" as it combines western lyrics with Indian classical music, the album has nine compositions.

Christmas hymns and carols, which usually are recorded on a piano, for the first time have been composed on Sarod by the maestro.

"I wanted to perform these beautiful Christmas renditions since 1995 but could not do so due to other commitments. My sons then shared this idea of mine sometime back and it happened this time," Khan told PTI.

The album, timed to coincide with the Christmas celebrations, is aimed at spreading the message of peace, compassion, brotherhood and one faith, he said.

"This album is my interpretation of the popular Christmas hymns and carols. All the compositions have been played by me and I have improvised them within the same notes," said the maestro, who is also the UNICEF National Ambassador. The Christmas special album also has a song for children 'Joy to the World', as yuletide holds an important place in children's hearts, by the way of receiving gifts.

Expressing his concern for humanity, the Ustad said children are important assets of the world and efforts should be made to teach the young minds about compassion, respect and the piousness of the guru-shishya (teacher-student) tradition.

"There should be a period where children go without textbooks and learn about moral and human values during the school hours," the Ustad said, adding he felt unfortunate about the recent incident in a Gurgaon school where two 14-year-old boys allegedly shot dead their classmate.

On the importance of classical music in today's times, Khan said its practitioners are still rooted in their tradition, culture and sacredness of the art.

"We (classical music artists) always sit down and render our performance and hence are always connected to the ground. This is how I explain my connection of being rooted to the tradition, culture and sanctity of classical music," the maestro said.

Talking about his recent outburst against the Madhya Pradesh government on not being invited to a state music festival, the Ustad said that he only "wanted to give back his love and music" to his soil and nothing else.

Sharing his 'guru mantra' for classical music aspirants, the Ustad said, "In our field there is no concern for win or loss unlike sports or films. Someone who can completely dedicate himself to god and his guru and can be patient, can achieve the pinnacle."