533 Souls Festival celebrates mental well-being in the post-pandemic world through serene, contemplative renditions of ragas and yoga. Filmed and recorded live at England’s premier venue - The Curve Theatre, Leicester - this performance is part of the 533 Souls Festival. Curated exclusively with UK-based musicians.
Ustad Wajahat Khan performs Raag Chandani Kedar in this video with his khayal style alap (slow introduction with rhythm, in vocal style) and two compositions in Teental - one set to a medium tempo (madhyalay)and the next to a faster tempo (drut). Shahbaz Hussain accompanies on the tabla, enhancing the recital with nuanced playing and interlinking subtle and indulgent energies with the sarod’s romantic and intricate melodic movements.
In this innovative adaptation of an ancient raga Khan reminds us of the famous surbahar-sitar duet recording classic of his guru/father and uncle (legendary masters Ustad Imrat Khan and Ustad Vilayat Khan), with his meandering movements in the lower and upper tetrachords that are finely hinged on beautiful meends (glides) – as if it were portraying the balance between attachment and detachment with the divine; or better still – between yearning and command.
Khan captures this essence in his alap, prompting an easy, exuberant introduction from Hussain. His improvisations soar with Hussain’s sparkling and lyrical delivery as he continues to develop the raga steadily. Weaving Chandani Kedar’s convoluted strands into a lucid story-telling, Khan tugs the heartstrings with its pleading demeanour and graceful command.
Renowned sarod master, Khan hails from the illustrious Etawah gharana - his family goes back through a line of celebrated musicians to the courts of 16th century India (including Ustad Imdad Khan who in 1902 became the first recorded instrumental soloist. He started his career as a child prodigy vocalist and went on to become the first sarod player of his dynasty. He is also a distinguished composer and educationalist, having performed worldwide with wide-ranging contributions to the styles and repertoires of the sarod.
An acclaimed tabla master, Hussain’s father and first guru Ustad Mumtaz Khan was a vocalist who infused in him at an early age the transcendental power of nuanced tabla accompaniment.
In this brief and unique presentation, the musicians’ tender submission to the grinding impact of the pandemic in their lives, they do not hesitate to show up in an empty theatre. Even as the 533 seats in the theatre lay empty, they transcend all worldly needs and immerse themselves in music.
Darbar in partnership with De Montfort University and The Curve Theatre, the 533 series covets and honors lives of the students’ communities that have been severely impacted by COVID in the UK and world over. One of the worst COVID-affected areas, Leicestershire was moved to tier three by the UK government - a category that completely banned household mixing and led to the shutting down of pubs, restaurants and universities, thus, putting an end to the dreams and aspirations of the huge students’ communities in Leicester.
Recorded at Darbar Festival in 2021, at The Curve Theatre, Leicester:
-Ustad Wajahat Khan (sarod)
-Shahbaz Hussain (tabla)
Raag Chandini Kedar, Thaat: Kalyan, Samay: late evening