During the pre-concert sound check on Friday afternoon, tabla player, Fazal Qureshi, gave the crowd gathered at the Kala Ghoda amphitheatre a glimpse of the sparks that would follow at his fusion concert later in the evening.
Crisp beats from Qureshi’s tabla drowned out the cacophony making it evident that the alterations in the sound levels that had required Qureshi to cancel his show on Thursday, had not tampered with his intentions for the concert.
“Mahesh Tinaikar (of ’80s rock band Indus Creed) will play the electric guitar, while my students and I perform tabla solos. I’ve never attempted such a performance before,” said the 50-year-old percussionist.
“Earlier tabla and rock was a rare combination, but musical boundaries have become very fluid.”
Incidentally, Qureshi had provided tabla beats for Indus Creed’s haunting hit Pretty Child back in 1992.
Qureshi, the younger sibling of celebrated tabla maestro Zakir Hussain, has been managing his father, Ustad Allah Rakha’s musical institute since “my older brother is very busy”.
It is Qureshi’s attempt to showcase promising young students from the institute at such platforms.
The artiste had planned an intriguing composition based on Lord Shiva’s tandav dance to showcase the talent of his students.
“There is enough interest in classical music right now. Many noted musicians make to it Page 3 and it’s these known figures that have popularised the genre. You notice the interest at college fests such as St Xavier’s’ IMG festival or IIT Bombay’s fest,” said Qureshi.
The artiste, however, makes a case for fusion too.
“Collaborations expose you to different types of music. But if you are grounded in classical then you don’t lose your identity. Although we are playing collaborative pieces today we won’t compromise on the classical.”
Qureshi’s career bears testimony to this balance.
He travels overseas frequently popularising the classical while playing with fusion artists.
His next port of call is Sweden, where he will collaborate with the group of artistes called Mynta.