Zakir Hussain says his performance in Boston will be a “magical experience”, excited to play at Sanders Theater on March 27

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CAMBRIDGE, MA—Tabla maestro Zakir Hussain is bringing Masters of Percussion to Boston on March 27 and is excited to play at Sanders Theater in Cambridge, MA.

“It is a beautiful theater with fantastic sonic tones and reflections. I am looking forward to playing there,” Hussain told INDIA New England News in a telephone interview. “It is going to be a magical experience.”

Sanders Theater: stage view (Photo: Steve Rosenthal)
Sanders Theater: stage view (Photo: Steve Rosenthal)

Hussain and his team is currently on a US tour. In Boston, he and his team will perform on Sunday, March 27, at Sanders Theater, located at 45 Quincy Street in Cambridge, MA. The Boston concert is organized by World Music.

Every other year since 1996, Hussain has served as curator, producer, and host in bringing the very cream of Indian music to tour America and Europe with his series Zakir Hussain and Masters of Percussion.

Hussain said every time he brings a new group of artists to Boston.

“I don’t bring the same artists every time I come to Boston. Musicians are different each time. It creates a different tone,” said Hussain, adding that he spends about a year in India scouting talents and then brings them to Mumbai to train them. “When we arrive in the United States, for the first time we all are in one place.”

He said there about 200 different types of drum instruments and about 20 odd drumming traditions in India.

“They all represent different regions of India and various traditions,” Hussain said.

He said this year on the team is Seiichi Tanaka from Japan who will play Taiko drum.

Zakir Hussain-Tour-sized
Zakir Hussain

“Taiko drumming tradition is Japan is almost 2,000 years old,” Hussain said. “It is as old as Indian drumming.

Tanaka will bring to Masters of Percussion the international fusion. Tanaka trained in Japan with Daihachi Oguchi in Nagano, Susumu Kowase in Tokyo, and Shosaku Ikeda of Goinjo Daiko, and then established the San Francisco Taiko Dojo, acting as father of the art form in America. Gifted graduates of his school have spread the art of taiko across the country and beyond. In 2001 his important work was recognized by the award of a National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment of the Arts.

Other players are:

Anantha Krishnan

Anantha R. Krishnan is the grandson and disciple of mridangam (a double-ended “Carnatic” Southern Indian drum) maestro Vidwan Shri. Palghat R.Raghu. Anantha initially learned mridangam from his uncle, Shri. R. Ramkumar. He also studies tabla with Ustad Zakir Hussain. He holds a Bachelor of Arts from Dartmouth College and a Master of Fine Arts from Mills College, California. He currently serves on the faculty of KM Music Conservatory in Chennai.

Sabir Khan

Sabir Khan is the ninth generation of his family to take up Sarangi (a stringed North Indian instrument played with a bow), and is considered one of the beacons of the younger generation and the wonderful product of a greatly talented lineage. He began to learn music at the age of six from his grandfather, Ustad Gulab Khan, who was a great sarangi player and vocalist. Soon after, Sabir began to study with his father, the world-renowned sarangi player and vocalist Ustad Sultan Khan, and with his late uncle, Ustad Nasir Khan. His extraordinary technique of combining sur and laya (note and rhythm) has made him stand out. In addition to his outstanding work in classical music, he has played with both gazal masters and on many Indian films.

Navin Sharma

A master of the “Dholak” (a double-ended pitched drum associated with Indian folk music), Navin first studied with his father, Shri Shyam Rughuram Sharma. Seeking to learn more in the classical vein, he studied with Zakir’s father, Ustad Allarakha. Navin has played with many masters across India, and in genres that include jazz, fusion, pop, rock, gazal and bhajan.

Mannargudi Vasudevan

Best known as “Vasu,” Mannargudi Vasudevan is the world’s premiere performer on the Tavil, a barrel-shaped drum prominent in Carnatic music. He trained at the Valivalam Music School, and his primary teacher was Kunju Singaravelu Pillai. He has performed all over the United States, Europe, and in Malaysia. He is also an Examiner at the Chennai Music College.

Zakir Hussain

Zakir Hussain is simply one of the world’s great musicians. He is the reigning master virtuoso of the classical Indian tabla, an unrivaled performer with the greats of Indian music. Moreover, his remarkably wide musical vision has taken him and his tabla into unimagined realms of collaboration that make him one of the chief architects of the contemporary “world music” movement. Shakti, which he founded with John McLaughlin and L. Shankar, the Diga Rhythm Band and Planet Drum with Mickey Hart, and Sangam with Charles Lloyd and Eric Harland only begin to sketch his career.

A child prodigy, Zakir was touring by the age of twelve. He came to the United States in 1970, performing his first US concert at the Fillmore East in New York City with Pandit Ravi Shankar, embarking on an illustrious international career.

In the past few years, his Triple Concerto for Banjo, Bass and Tabla, a piece co-composed with Edgar Meyer and Bela Fleck, was performed by them with the Nashville Symphony at the gala opening of the Schermerhorn Symphony Hall in Nashville. In January 2009, it was re-created with the Detroit Symphony, again under the baton of Leonard Slatkin. This performance and new original works composed by Zakir, Edgar and Bela, was released as The Melody of Rhythm in 2009.

Zakir’s second concerto, Concerto for Four Soloists, a special commission for the National Symphony Orchestra, was performed at Kennedy Center in March 2011, conducted by Christoph Eschenbach.

Most recently, his third concerto, Peshkar, debuted in September 2015 to rapturous acclaim in Mumbai. Performed by Zakir and the Symphony Orchestra of India at the National Centre for the Performing Arts, it was described in the Hindustan Times as “a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Simply sublime.”

He has received countless honors from sources ranging from the Indian, French, and U.S. governments to Modern Drummer, Drum!, and Downbeat Magazines and NARAS (the “Grammys”). He was the recipient of the 1999 National Heritage Fellowship, the United States’ most prestigious honor for a master in the traditional arts, presented by First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton at the United States Senate on September 28, 1999.

In 2005, he was named an Old Dominion Fellow by the Humanities Council at Princeton University, where he resided for the 2005-2006 autumn semester as full professor in the music department, teaching a survey course in Indian classical music and dance. The following school year he taught the course again, at Stanford University. His annual tabla workshop in Marin County, conducted for the past twenty-five years, draws hundreds of serious students and performers.

In 2007, the government of India chose him to compose an anthem to celebrate India’s 60th year of independence. The song, “Jai Hind”, has been recorded by an array of India’s finest classical vocalists and pop singers. His music and extraordinary contribution to the music world were honored in April 2009, with four widely heralded and sold-out concerts at Carnegie Hall’s Artist Perspective series.

In 1992, Zakir founded Moment! Records, which features original collaborations in the field of contemporary world music and live concert performances by great masters of the classical music of India. He is currently resident artistic director at SFJAZZ.   www.zakirhussain.com

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