Indian classical music may have a niche audience, but its essence has not got lost. Sons of sarod maestro Ustad Amjad Ali Khan, Amaan Ali Bangash (39) and Ayaan Ali Bangash (36) are the perfect example of this.
Classical shows require precision and flexibility . Having learnt from the very best, their father, it is their precision, flexibility, coupled with immense knowledge that makes them who they are - in a word, brilliant.
The duo performed with Grammy-nominated concert violinist Elmira Darvarova in US for their album ‘Soul Strings’ and are looking forward to their upcoming concert in October. They will also be collaborating with noted Indian-American musician Karsh Kale later this year.
In Chandigarh to perform at the ongoing Model United Nations at Strawberry Fields High School, the brothers unravelled multiple facets of Sarod-playing and gave a glimpse into the musical world. HT caught up with the passionate duo who said they loved Chandigarh, where they first performed in 1995.
How is it like to be the sons of the ‘great’ Amjad Ali Khan?
Ayaan: It does put extra responsibility on us, but at the same it is a way of life for us. Besides, it only keeps taking us back to the time our father compromised on his tours so that he could spend time with us and that makes us want to give back to him each time we perform. And with my four-year-old son, things haven’t changed much, now the grandfather has another student to take care of. There is no pressure, he is free to do what he likes to but there is madness for music in the family. It’s like the cake was baked for us.
How far is the outreach of classical music today?
Amaan: I feel that when you want to order food from a restaurant, you do some research before doing that. It might not taste as delicious, as it does when you have it at the restaurant. It’s the same for music and social media. I believe in consistency over everything else. You have to reach a level that your work cannot be duplicated, which comes from hard work. Music can be duplicated, but hard work cannot be!
Ayaan: The advent of social media platforms has helped widen the reach of classical music. This also enables a wider audience across all age groups to engage with this kind of music. The fact that there is something like the ‘Youtube Gharana’ speaks volumes of its prevalence today; yet there is no rule book for classical music.
How do you engage the younger audience?
Amaan: It is important that music, whether classical or rock and roll, is not enforced upon a child. Music needs to be enjoyed, rather than appreciated.
Ayaan: It isn’t very often that we perform at schools or go with the agenda of educating the youngsters about classical music, but I feel if it is done the right way, no venue is small or big. That is how it is in universities abroad.
Is there any competition between the siblings?
Amaan: It is about accepting than expecting. You see your parents’ reflection in your siblings because that is what brings you together. That is when you ask yourself is anything bigger than what our parents’ vision for us was and you automatically resolve it.
Ayaan: Like any set of siblings, we have arguments and disagreements over things and it is normal. We started off as soloists and went on to perform together and we continue to have our individual shows so it’s evenly balanced out.