Gasping for live audiences

Gasping for live audiences

2020 has witnessed a profusion of virtual concerts and musical collaborations between artists in different spaces and artists building up their social media presence. But the need for a live audience is acutely felt by every performer for that spontaneous audiences' feedback who spur creativity with the flow of human energies.

While in other cities live concerts have resumed in a limited way and sometimes in an outdoor setting, Delhi has lagged. This thirst for a live audience has compelled a group of your musicians in the capital to take the initiative and organise an intimate 'baithak' style for a two-day festival from December 26 to December 27.

Spearheaded by young Zuheb Ahmed of the tabla Ajjrada Gharana, the initiative is termed 'Musicians United'.

Zuheb confessed, "We young artists got tired of waiting to be invited to perform by organisers and we are literally craving a live concert. Delhi is the capital city and should not be behind Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai and Kolkata in the live concerts. We hope we will be able to organise themed 'baithaks'. The first is focused on sitar, where we have invited four young artists representing four different styles (gharanas) - Ustad Fateh Ali Khan from Moradabad Gharana, Adnan Khan from the Dilli/Kirana Gharana, Soumitra Thakur from the Vishnupur/Maihar Gharana who currently lives in Delhi and Mumbai based Mehtab Ali Niazi of the Bhendi Bazar Gharana."

Ustad Fateh Ali Khan, whose older twin Ustad Murad Ai Khan is a renowned sarangi player said, "We musicians need to help one another as times have been very hard. For some of us, the financial implications have been truly disastrous. We cannot wait for outsiders to help us, so we musicians have to support each other."

He is being accompanied on the tabla by the young Shahbaz Shakeel. On this, Fateh Ali said, "We have all been through this. As an elder performer, I need to share the stage with someone from the younger generation. That is the only way we as performers can grow. I told Zuheb, who is organising the event, I am happy to play with anyone you recommend. Shahbaz is a wonderful player."

Delhi based Adnan Khan said, "We do not really need to perform for a large gathering. Even 40-50 enthusiastic listeners are good enough. We anticipate that youngsters will attend as the seniors may feel scared."

The youngest of the performers is 22-year-old Mehtab. This will not be his first live concert as he recently performed in Hyderabad at the festival organised in memory of Pandit Jasraj and his gurus.

Organiser Zuheb Ahmed said, "We have tried to give a platform to young tabla players too, so are not repeating any artist."

The four tabla accompanists will be Zaheen Khan, Shahbaaz Shakeel, Saptak Sharma and Zuheb himself.

The venue is unusual too. Instead of the city's usual venues, the young artists chose the Mahatma Gandhi Museum (Gandhi Sangralay) on the Raj path.

Zuheb explained "We do not feel the need to go to a common well-known venue as we know the regular older listeners of classical music may be hesitant to venture out. The 'baithak' style of listening is the best for classical music, where there is eye contact between the performers and their audience and that is why we chose this venue. We have arranged for an excellent sound system and will be relaying the concerts later on 'Insync TV'."

(Shailaja writes on music,

musicians and matters of music)

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