Alchemy 2015: Zakir Hussain

Lubjana witnessed musical maestro Zakir Hussain live at Alchemy 2015 and shares her experience

Posted: 04.06.15

As far as world class musical stars go, Zakir Hussain requires little introduction. The child prodigy and world’s greatest Indian tabla player. He is the son of Alla Rakha, the legendary classical tabla player who performed with Ravi Shankar. Hussain does not bask in emulating his father’s classical style but has developed a contemporary concoction of Indo-Celtic sounds which work together brilliantly.

Hussain begins the performance by describing it as 'a little get together.' He sits on stage with two fellow traditional Indian musicians and on both sides, surrounded by an ensemble of Celtic musicians. He shares how the music is a 'throwback' to the colonial experience.

There are similar patterns of notes from both the Indian and Celtic style. The Scottish and Irish fuse together and the high energy of the tabla seems to effortlessly blend with the tones, notes and beats. The combination of the Indian violin and flute along with the fiddle, guitar and bodhran seem very natural, working in tandem. This combination is of orchestral beauty.

His special relationship with the instrument is obvious from the onset. He lives and breathes the tabla. Hussain has an Intuitive way of understanding this percussion instrument, evident in the sustained rhythm especially during his solo sections of high intensity drumming which are hypnotic. He is energetic and powerful. Quite simply Hussain embodies the spirit of the festival and is appropriately a musical alchemist.

This unique project has been touring across North America and has been produced in conjunction with Celtic Connections, Scotland’s famous music festival.

Zakir Hussain performed live at Aclhemy 2015 and was accompanied by a live orchestra comprising of: Rakesh Chaurasia (bansura), Ganesh Rajagopalan (violin), Patsy Reid (fiddle/viola), Charlie McKerron (fiddle), Fraser Fifield (flute/pipes), John Joe Kelly (bodhran), Jean-Michel Veillon (flute) and Shane McGowan (guitar).

Lubjana Matin-Scammell

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