I’m having a Narnia feeling at the moment as over the weekend with my family I watched a concert that transported me to another universe. For the fourth time in my life I watched the Tabla maestro Ustad Zakir Hussain perform for the Alchemy Festival at Festival Hall London. Every time I watch Zakirji’s concerts no two performances are ever the same. However it was not just Zakirji’s performance that blew me away but also humility which is a rare quality to find. It really upsets me when I come across people who have only ever written one poem or sang one song and they give themselves the title of legend, when I’m in the company of a true legend like Zakirji I find this term is used too loosely. Zakirji does not even like to call himself a legend, this was reflected in how he introduced the young Sitar Maestro Niladri Kumar saying “It is not Niladri Kumar accompanying Zakir Hussain it is the other way round”. This encouragement for the young maestro was very heartening to see.
The second half of the concert saw the UK premiere of Zakirji’s Tabla Concerto Peshkar conducted by Zane Dalal,another musical journey which takes the listener to another world. During the question and answer session with Zane Dalal and Zakirji they both showed the utmost respect and appreciation of each other. When Zakirji talked about the work behind putting the concerto together I loved how being such a legend he acknowledged his mentors such as Jazz Guitarist John McLaughlin,saying how he consulted with him when putting the concerto together. Many years ago I also had the once in a lifetime privilege of hearing Zakirji’s late father Ustad Allah Rakhaji perform and Zakirji still applies what his late father taught him which is;
“ Son do not try to be a master be a good student.”
Again very humbling to hear maestro's talk like this. All too often people are chasing the titles and accolades looking to get their names out there and forget what an Art like Music is all about. This concert was not only musically as always a mind blowing experience but really made me think about the world we live in which is sadly one of arrogance,vanity,hierarchy, I could go on forever. When I see that a true legend does not possess such toxic qualities it re -defines the meaning all together.
As always Zakirji was happy to mix with his fans after the show and I hope anybody who had the honour of meeting him got more from the experience that just having a selfie to plaster on facebook and name drop about. For me as always my own experience was at a very profound level.