March 14, 2018 – Bronx, NY – Bronx Arts Ensemble (BAE ) presented East Meets West – Indian artists Amaan Ali Bangash and his brother Ayaan Ali Bangash, along with members of BAE performed a concert designed to weave together the cultures of the East and West. According to Ayaan, the aim was to “joyfully explore the common musical ‘DNA’ of both traditions.”
The Bangash brothers performed on the sarod, a large string instrument similar to the sitar; it is a member of the lute family, indigenous to Hindustani classical music. A third player, Amit Kavthekar, performs on tabla, a pair of small, single-headed drums held between the legs. BAE members include violinists Jorge Ávila and Francisca Mendoza, violist Sally Shumway, cellist Eliana Mendoza, flutist Theresa Norris, and bassoonist Atsuko Sato.
All the musicians performed Samaagam (Sanskrit meaning confluence or flowing together), a new piece composed by the Bangashs. According to Ayaan, “We worked to preserve the essence of both Indian and Western musical traditions so that they can both flow artistically. We used pre-Bollywood Indian orchestration, combined with compatible Western musical style”
Other works on the program were performed only by the Bangashs and Kavthekar. Tribute to Tagore utilizes folk music from western Bengal known as Bhatiyali, a type of music sung by boatmen on a river. It has poetry written in 1905 by Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore and music composed in the 1960s by Amjad Ali Khan. The message of the poem, entitled Ekla Cholo, is that if no one responds to your call, you must walk on your path alone.
In Classical Indian music there is no written score, so improvisation takes hold once the initial composition is presented. Ayaan points out, “The musicians on stage don’t know what the other is going to do and yet have to perform like a rehearsed orchestra! Our role is really that of three people: the performer, the composer, and the conductor.”
Amaan Ali Bangash is the elder son and disciple of the Sarod Maestro Amjad Ali Khan. Initiated into the fine art of Sarod playing at a very tender age, Amaan began his public performances at the age of eight. Accompanying his father to various music festivals in India and abroad, he has today carved out a niche for himself and his performances have evoked considerable applause. His precision in tunefulness and his bold and resonant strokes are all pointers to the importance of tradition and continuity in Indian Classical Music. He made his debut abroad in 1986 at the Festival of India in Moscow. In 1990, Amaan performed in the UK and at the Asia Society in 1991 in New York. Today, Amaan is considered as one of the finest young sarod players and has attained a very special place for himself among Indian music enthusiasts. Awards and accolades came his way early in life, yet Amaan steadfastly pursued his family’s inheritance and legacy. His personal belief being that his work will speak for itself. In October 2002, he received Provogue Society’s Young Achievers Award for Performing Arts. Beyond playing the sarod, Amaan has anchored Top Drive, the all-new television series on Star World that was aired beginning in January 2003 for five episodes. He also took part in the relay for the 2004 Athens Olympics in New Delhi in June 2004. In 2005, Amaan composed for the music for the film American Daylight by Academy Award winner Rodger Christian. For more info: amaanalibangash.com.
Ayaan Ali Bangash is the younger son and disciple of the Sarod titan Maestro Amjad Ali Khan, making his solo concert debut at the age of eight. Since that time, Ayaan has been performing concerts worldwide, giving many solo performances and also appearing in concert with his illustrious father and brother. Ayaan has won the hearts of music lovers both in India and around the globe. He made his UK Debut in 1989 and the US Debut in 1991 at the Asia Society in New York. By the year 2000, Ayaan joined his father at the Dalai Lama’s Sacred Music Festival inauguration. In June 2004, Ayaan took part in the Athens 2004 Olympic Torch Relay in New Delhi and the Fall of the same year he performed at the Symphony Hall in Fukuoka and New York’s Town Hall. In 2005, Ayaan composed the music score for Roger Christian’s film American Daylight. Ayaan has participated in over seven recordings that include three solo projects. His recent recordings include Sarod for Harmony and Live at Carnegie Hall. For more info: ayaanalibangash.com.
Amit Kavthekar’s performing career began in the early 2000s in Mumbai. He performed alongside Zakir Hussain and Sivamani on Zee TV on Indian television. He appeared in Jabbar Patel’s documentary film about Pt. Shivkumar Sharma accompanying the maestro in concert. In Mumbai and Pune, he has accompanied maestros such as Lata Mangeshkar and Pandit Jasraj. After settling in Boston, Amit joined the faculty of the New England Conservatory. For more info: amitkavthekar.com.
Bronx Arts Ensemble brings the power of the arts to neighborhoods across the Bronx through its live music and arts education programs. It presents over 50 live concerts annually to more than 35,000 people, featuring diverse cultures, including classical, Latin, Afro-Cuban, and other world music. BAE’s arts education programs have served over 100,000 Bronx students since 1993 through multi-disciplinary artist residencies during school hours, after-school, and through summer activities that culminate in original auditorium programs and in-school gallery exhibits.