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Music maestros come together

In a unique concert that celebrates musical duos and their performances together through decades, Pt Shiv Kumar Sharma and Zakir Hussain will take to the stage this weekend.

music Updated: Jan 15, 2010 18:46 IST
Jayeeta Muzumder

Zakir HussainIn a unique concert that celebrates musical duos and their performances together through decades, Pt Shiv Kumar Sharma and Zakir Hussain will take to the stage this weekend.

The Splendour of Masters-together, a new annual concert series by Banyan Tree, will bring maestros of classical music to various cities across the country.

Needless to say, Pt Shiv Kumar Sharma and Ustad Zakir Hussain have enthralled audiences over the years and this concert promises no less. Speaking about their association, Panditji says, "It's a very special relationship that we share, as musicians and also on a personal level. I've known Zakir since his childhood and I've also known his father.

"We've traveled so much together everywhere - India and abroad, into the remotest villages, where we've got so much appreciation. I have seen Zakir grow up to be the legend that he is today; and he still remains so grounded."

While talking about harmonising the santoor with the tabla, he explains, "The tabla is a very important part of music, and especially to my style of music. If my co-musician doesn't understand the kind of music I follow, it becomes very difficult.

Special memory

"But with Zakir, it's always been a breeze. He not only understands the nuances of my music but also the temperament. Music brings out the whole personalities of musicians."

He pauses for a long time, in deep thought, when asked to pick one memory of them playing together. "It's a matter of 30-40 years, so it's difficult to pick one. But I remember this concert at the Ellora Festival about 20 years ago, when we were playing in the open. It was freezing and we had been playing continuously for about four hours.

On stage

"The audience wouldn't let us stop. When we finally did, I saw blood oozing out of Zakir's fingers. Throughout the performance, I never noticed a hint of pain in his face. He becomes music itself when he's playing; when he is on stage," he recalls.

The maestro describes Zakir as a great musician, apart from being a sensitive human being. "He helps people around him and he doesn't let anybody know about all that. He respects elders a lot."

Panditji also connects with Zakir on other levels, apart from music. Both the legends are food lovers. He confesses, "Whenever we are travelling abroad, Zakir will make sure that he drives. And we stop over at some 'dhaba' that he knows about. Also, we listen to all kinds of music, so we do have a lot of common interests."

Unscripted experiments

Their live performances, he says, have usually been experimentations. "When we are on stage, we catch the cues that we throw at each other and harmonise. Nothing is scripted when we perform. But a style has been etched through the years, from the way we have been playing together," he smiles.