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Dhar India Studies Program

Last modified: Thursday, September 5, 2013

Indian music maestro to be first School of Global and International Studies Artist in Residence

Amjad Ali Khan will teach a weeklong class on Indian classical music and culture

Sept. 5, 2013

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- World-renowned Indian classical music maestro Amjad Ali Khan will visit Indiana University Bloomington as a guest of the Madhusudan and Kiran C. Dhar India Studies Program and as the first School of Global and International Studies Artist in Residence.

Amjad Ali Khan

Amjad Ali Khan

Print-Quality Photo

Khan, a master of the sarod, will offer a weeklong 1-credit-hour class on Indian classical music and culture Sept. 23 to 27 at the Dhar India Studies Program, 825 E. Eighth St.

The class will culminate in a public demonstration at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 25, in Auer Hall, to which all are welcome. Khan's son Ayaan Ali Khan will join him to introduce the audience to time-honored traditional methods of sarod artistry.

The Khan family also will be performing at the Lotus World Music and Arts Festival as part of its evening performance schedule at 7 p.m. Sept. 28.

The course will be highly interactive in nature, and students will learn the fundamental concepts of Indian classical music through time-honored traditional methods. Topics will include the forms of raga (melodic modes) and taal (rhythmic patterns) and how the practice of composition continually helps to preserve both tradition and musical technique.

Students need not have any prior musical training, although those with expertise in any instrument may bring that instrument to class with them. Classes will be offered from 4:15 to 6:45 p.m. each day. For more information about the class, contact the Dhar India Studies Program at 812-855-5798 or

"Musicians and listeners of music have been communicating with each other across all barriers through this 'language' from time immemorial," Khan said. "As we use flowers in worship, welcoming, honoring, departure and celebration no matter what our race, origin, religion or language, we similarly arrange musical notes into 'bouquets' or compositions which display all our human feelings and emotions.

"Through my residency at Indiana University, I would like to reach out to students with experience playing a musical instrument -- including voice -- from any musical tradition," he added. "No previous experience with Indian music is necessary. There is room for music beyond technical brilliance and firework mastery. There is a word of punctuation even in music. Appeal, aesthetics and poise are all musical terms for me.

"Above all, I'd like students to realize and feel music as a way of life. Through music I would like to connect the world," Khan said.

Michael S. Dodson, director of the Dhar India Studies Program, said he is thrilled that Khan is visiting the Bloomington campus and providing students with a personal and in-depth introduction to a musical form that spans centuries.

"Amjad Ali Khan is India's foremost classical musician, without question. He comes from a long lineage of hereditary musicians," Dodson said. "He will demonstrate the way in which the elements of Indian classical music are transferred through the generations and how composition works in a traditional music form."

Khan has performed on the sarod since he was 6 years old, having been taught by his father, the sixth generation in the Bangash lineage.

He has performed at major music festivals worldwide, including the WOMAD festivals, the Edinburgh Music Festival, the World Beat Festival, the Summer Arts Festival in Seattle, BBC Proms, the Shiraz Festival and the Hong Kong Arts Festival. He frequently performs at Carnegie Hall, the Royal Albert Hall, Kennedy Center, Santury Hall (where he was the first Indian performer), Chicago Symphony Center and the Opera House in Australia.

In addition to his visit to IU and his performance at Lotus, Khan and his sons are performing concerts at the United Nations, the San Francisco Jazz Festival, the Berklee Performance Center in Boston and the Chicago World Music Festival during their current visit to the United States.

While Khan has remained focused on Indian classical music, he also has experimented with modifications to his instrument throughout his career. His musical collaborations have included works composed for the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, as well as duets with guitarists Charlie Byrd, Alvaro Pierri and Barry Mason and violinist Igor Frolov.

In 2010, he released with his sons the album "Sarod Symphony," which was a presentation of some of his compositions within a symphony. His concerto for Sarod and orchestra, "Samaagam," resulted from collaboration with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and was released worldwide the following year.

In 2011, the Grammy-nominated artist released a collection of Indian classical ragas and collaborated with Carrie Newcomer on her album, "Everything Is Everywhere," with his sons.

Khan recently was honored with the Rajiv Gandhi National Sadbhavna Award, which is given by the Indian government to those who make outstanding contributions toward promotion of communal harmony, national integration and peace. He also has received the UNESCO Gandhi Medal, Padma Vibhushan (Highest Indian civilian award), UNICEF's National Ambassadorship and the Crystal Award by the World Economic Forum.