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Thursday October 28th

From Nobel Peace Prize Concert to Memorial Hall: Musician brings Sarod to Chapel Hill

<p>The Sarod players Amjad Ali Khan, Ayaan Ali Khan and Amaan Ali Khaan who will be performing at Memorial Hall. Photo courtesy of Suvo Das.</p>
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The Sarod players Amjad Ali Khan, Ayaan Ali Khan and Amaan Ali Khaan who will be performing at Memorial Hall. Photo courtesy of Suvo Das.

Carolina Performing Arts will be hosting a performance by an Indian classical musician on Wednesday, Nov. 13, that some have recognized to be the most famous Sarod player in the world.

Jess Abel, the marketing and communications coordinator for Carolina Performing Arts, said Amjad Ali Khan is a sixth-generation Sarod master and known as the best player in the world.

“He is known for having reinvented this instrument,” Abel said. “Just learning and being able to hear this technique in person is a pretty rare and incredible opportunity for the community.”  

Ayaan Ali Bangash and Amaan Ali Bangash, Amjad Ali Khan’s two sons, are part of this Sarod legacy and will also be joining him on stage. 

“They are leading players of the Sarod,” said John Caldwell, a professor in UNC’s Department of Asian Studies. “It brings a shimmering amplified sound.”

Khan has performed at Carnegie Hall, Royal Albert Hall and even the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize Concert. 

“It’s always exciting to see someone in Memorial Hall because, in comparison, it’s such an intimate venue,” Abel said. “To see someone of this international caliber playing this unique and traditional music.” 

Olivia Begos, a UNC music student and Carolina Performing Arts box office employee, said this performance will give the audience a professional, polished perspective and a performance from a world-renowned Sarod player. 

Prior to the performance, there will be a lecture hosted by Dr. Afroz Taj and John Caldwell.

Caldwell said the pre-concert discussion will focus on the combination of tradition and innovation within modern Indian classical performance. It will also explain some basic understandings of Indian classical song and raga structure, along with other musical elements that may be unfamiliar to a new listener. 

Caldwell said there are thousands of individual ragas, which are melodic structures that include sequences of notes and motivic elements within that. 

“Ragas have moods that are associated with this concept of affect,” Caldwell said. “Spirituality, love, anger, seasons, times of day, etc.”

Caldwell said it is important for new listeners to explore and familiarize themselves with this style of music to understand the messages and purpose of the performance. 

The father and son or teacher and student performance practice is part of an ancient tradition called Guru-shishya. 

Caldwell said the elder musician may play something imitated by the younger musician, developing through improvisation and playing off of each other. 

“There’s a sense of this cosmic music that’s all around us, and they start to pull elements out that they assemble,” Caldwell said, in reference to the first section of a raga. “They slowly assemble notes into patterns, patterns into motives, motives into melodies.”

As they tour internationally, they combine tradition with newer performance practices that attract a variety of audiences. 

Caldwell said this performance could include lively shorter pieces with lots of variations in both visual and audial techniques. 

“I think the performance will inform individuals about the similarities and differences between western and eastern classical music and might be an informative and interesting way to jump outside of their musical comfort zone,”  Begos said.


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