Next week at Gretna Music: Five questions with Amjad Ali Khan

2 min readPosted July 19, 2019

Amjad Ali Khan is the most famous living sarod player in the entire world. He has performed all over the world, and you’ll be able to see him in Mt. Gretna on July 28.

Each week this summer, LebTown will be previewing who’s playing next at Gretna Music—leaving you time to purchase tickets or get more information on the artists by visiting the Gretna Music website or Facebook page, or calling 717-361-1508.

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So, without further ado, here’s your chance to learn more about Amjad Ali Khan before the concert next Saturday!

How would you describe “Sarod Trilogy” to someone who hasn’t seen it before?

Amjad Ali Khan: An interesting aspect of Indian Classical music is that, here you have three people on stage, who don’t know what the other is going to do and yet have to perform like a rehearsed orchestra! Therefore our role as performers is really that of three people, i.e., the performer, the composer and the conductor. Three in one! Along with the Sarods and the percussion, there will be a Tanpura, which is the drone instrument (tonight an electronic one), tuned to the true tonic. In the course of my sons, Amaan and Ayaan’s training (which is an ongoing process for a Classical musician), I never encouraged them to copy my style of playing beyond a point. As they developed and matured as musicians relieved to see that both brothers developing a very distinctive and rather different approach to what was taught. This I feel is only natural as the music is a reflection of an individuals’ mind and soul.”

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What inspirations have gone into the performance?

Amjad Ali Khan: In the sixties and seventies, there was a phase in which classical musicians took great pride in playing Ragas for two to three hours non stop. Frankly, after maybe an hour, it was all repetition. However, due to artists wanting to prove a point, a section of listeners drifted away to easy listening. One must keep in mind that no books or shastras ever mentioned anything about the length or style of presentation of Indian Classical Music. I believe that by playing the essence of a raga for a shorter period, you are not diluting it. I believe in being traditional and not conventional. In the early eighties, I had recorded an album of short pieces (based on Ragas) in one album. At that time, I was of course criticized for not going into too much ponderous detailing. I am happy to see that today this has become a trend.

What has the experience rehearsing and putting it together been like?

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Amjad Ali Khan: Indian classical music is an expression of a cultural identity whether it be the past, present or future. Its study is based on dedication, surrender, faith, humility, trust, spirituality and rigorous practice and discipline.

Where is the most unexpected place you’ve heard or played amazing music?

Amjad Ali Khan: It would be at the Nobel Peace Prize concert where I played just for five minutes!

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What would be your Jigger Shop order?

Amjad Ali Khan: Jigger – “Our Specialty”
Two and a half scoops of French vanilla ice cream made with your choice of chocolate or butterscotch topping, whipped marshmallow and our secret touch… Jigger Nuts!

If you go…
7:30 July 28, Amjad Ali Khan: Sarod Trilogy
“He is the most famous living sarod player in the world.”

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