Irshad Khan | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Irshad Khan 

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It's not surprising that so many of the greatest Indian classical musicians, from Anoushka Shankar to Amjad Ali Khan, are the progeny of other famous musicians. Mastery of the tradition requires the kind of rigorous day-in, day-out study that a university education isn't likely to provide. Sitar master Irshad Khan is no exception--he's the son of Imrat Khan and the nephew of Vilayat Khan, both sitar legends. Like his elders, he also plays the surbahar, a bass sitar invented by his great-great-grandfather. The recordings of modern Hindustani music on which he plays this deeply resonant instrument are transporting: his meditative improvisations unfold with steely patience, developing melodic patterns with the kind of measured austerity one usually encounters only in dhrupad music. Unfortunately, for this concert Khan won't be playing the surbahar, but his ability on the sitar, an instrument that allows for more agile playing, is nothing to sneeze at. On The Music of Twilight (Naxos World, 2000) his performance in the alap--the expository section of a raga--starts slow and spare, then accelerates with increasingly fleet melodic curlicues, thematic development, and rhythmic daring. He'll be joined here by one of the world's greatest tabla players, Anindo Chatterjee, a veteran who's also worked with the likes of Ali Akbar Khan and Hariprasad Chaurasia. Thursday, March 27, 7 PM, Preston Bradley Hall, Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington; 312-744-6630.

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