Sarod players Amaan and Ayaan Ali Khan in Kolkata, Feb. 4. (Press Trust of India)
Sarod players Amaan and Ayaan Ali Khan’s collaborative performance with Grammy nominated violinist Elmira Darvarova for the raaga based ensemble ‘Soul Strings,’ mesmerized audiences at a concert in New Delhi. (@Siliconeer, #Siliconeer, @AmaanAliKhan, @AyaanAliKhan, #AmjadAliKhan, #IndianMusic, @ElmiraDarvarova)
Composed by sarod maestro Ustad Amjad Ali Khan, the album itself was released in New York last year in September.
For Elmira the experience was a learning considering the violinist comes from an entirely different background of music.
“It has been a thrilling experience. It’s not just the joy, it’s not just an honor but a privilege to be collaborating with the most magnificent sarod players in the world. Ever since I started this collaboration with them a year ago, it has been a learning experience,” says Elmira.
“I have been learning so much about the mesmerizing Indian classical music. Its system, heritage, richness and the fact that they are the seventh generation Sarod players, it goes to show how deep it is. It shows how complex the music system is of the classical Indian music. How it’s maintained in this beautiful stage of continuity and how it continues to be so magical,” Elmira told PTI on the sidelines of the concert organized at the Taj Mahal Hotel in New Delhi, recently.
The concert violinist from U.S. says she comes from the traditions of opera, symphony and chamber music, which is completely different from that of the Khan brothers.
“Everything was different and yet when we bridge our cultures with the amalgamation of our two musics, it becomes a new entity which is born.
“I was even scared because for me it was new and I did not know anything about it. It pulled me out of my comfort zone and learning new things. I immediately fell in love with it and was bewitched and mesmerized by it,” says Elmira.
However, for the Sarod maestros, Amaan and Ayaan it was more of a responsibility than a challenge where they tend to showcase the partnership skills.
“We did not face any challenges as such. It is more of a responsibility because having a good concert is not about showcasing your skills. It is about trying to encourage the other person to perform better. Once you are in line with that what happens is you automatically end up having a good concert. It was not a pressure. It was just a nice experience,” says Amaan.
The collaboration started last year after the three met in the capital during a violin and piano concert and they got into a conversation.
“I met Amaan and Ayaan during a concert of piano and violin in New Delhi in November 2014 and that’s when we decided to collaborate not knowing about the results,” says Elmira.
“It was not ever about performing together. It was about seeing possibilities for my father’s orchestra, the score that he has written for international orchestra, ‘Samagam.’ From there we started a conversation of working together. Amaan and I did a concert, ‘Symphony Space,’ last February in New York and after that we went into the studio recording ‘Soul Strings.’
So we wanted Elmira here to do a live concert because we wanted to promote this album,” says younger brother Ayaan.
The trio had received tips from Ustad Amjad Ali Khan who made a surprise visit to the recording of the sequel to the album ‘Soul Strings.’
“Ustad Sahab made a surprise visit to the recording saying that the goal is to sing. It does not matter how different it is. When any musician sings, that’s the beauty,” says Elmira.
The brothers are all set to play with their father in upcoming concerts in New York.