Submitted by WBRi on Sat, 03/17/2012 - 21:49.
By Devapriya "Debu" Nayak
Washington, D.C., March 17, 2012 (Washington Bangla Radio) After his remarkable concert with the National Symphony Orchestra a couple of years ago that is still resonating in Washington, Ustad Zakir Hussain returned to Kennedy Center today with The Masters of Percussion - some of the brightest stars of Indian music today. The concert was presented by the Washington Performing Arts Society (WPAS).
Simply put, Ustad ji is a Tabla wizard and a virtuoso. He uses every part of his two palms of his hands to make the Dayan and Bayan (right and left drums -Tabla) talk. His fingers constantly become blurry while playing, and while doing that he simply bludgeons the audience into submission. “Ustad” Zakir Hussain, a salutation which he refuses to accept (listen to his interview with B. Mitra … like everything in India there is a story behind this one too), is a master of this art and the genre’s most celebrated and recognizable artist around the world. He is also the proponent of a new movement going around the world called “Tabla science” which he teaches at Princeton University. (more info on this in my Tabla blog) . Ustad Zakir Hussain, in recent years, has reached new heights in exposing new audiences to this ancient musical craft. Tabla, although a relatively newer percussion instrument in the sub-continent, dates only back to 300-500 years compared to Pakhawaj, Mridangam, Madol and other percussive instruments in the Indian sub-continent.
We saw Zakir ji, in the show at the Kennedy center concert hall, offer some newer and exciting elements of sound production for the Tabla lovers in the area. The stage opens with a very traditional tabla duet (which he is used to performing with his father Ustad Alla Rakha), with his brother Fazal Qureshi. The two sets of Tablas, just like any tabla duet performances in India, were set to two different octaves. They highlighted interaction of melodic movements, borrowing stories from Hindu mythological tales of Ganesh and Shiva, interspersed with speedy syllables of “relas” and “kaida” elements (bols) of Punjab school (gharana), in this syllable-chanting duet piece. The only thing that was missing in this particular piece is the crucial role of a Sarangi player as it is done in a traditional Tabla duets/solos. They decided to keep the time with hand signals - borrowed from Karnatic style – as it’s done in a South Indian Taal Vadya Kacheri.