When Khan was interviewed for a documentary in the 90's, he mentioned that playing classical Indian music made him wish he had lived in a past life. Lucky for Bostonians, the legendary misfit's time travels bring him back to Beantown.
Sarod, a lute-like instrument with a rounded wooden back, a flat goat skin surface, unfretted fingerboards and 17 to 25 steel strings (four or five melody strings, one or two drone strings, two chikari strings and nine to eleven sympathetic strings) requires decades of mastery and patience; a dedication already passed down from Khan's father Hafiz Ali Khan to the new generations of the dynastic family.
Another unknown fact may be that Massachusetts declared April 20 as Amjad Ali Khan Day back in 1984. From Carnegie Hall to appearances with the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, Khan (67) brings with him an incredible history of musicianship.
The melancholic ragas (ancient classical forms of Indian music) require serious improvisation skills and, by now, the sarod (Amjad Ali Khan's lineage also claims to have created the instrument) is like another vital organ in his body. Not unlike Ravi Shankar's success in making sitar globally recognizable, Khan helped make this regional instrument go beyond its geographic territory. The concert on Sunday at Berklee Performance Center is an exceptional treat; it is an opportunity to see how a 'foreign' instrument can transcend such boundaries and resonate with humanity all over the world from the most intimate emotional level.
Khan tells transcendental stories, fables, romantic passages. He initiates dance rituals and heart-breaking poems through the speechless, haunting sounds of the sarod. A peaceful testament that during these times of habitual cultural misunderstandings stemming from the language of depredation, perhaps words should be temporarily silenced with beautiful sounds from another culture's soul.
Amjad Ali Khan
Sunday / September 15, 2013 / 7:30 p.m.
Berklee Performance Center
136 Massachusetts Avenue Boston MA 02115