January 31, 2023

Published from Mumbai, Delhi & Bhopal

COVID-19 big blow, but better to be safe than sorry: Bangash brothers

New Delhi: By its nature, classical music is magical in its impact only in a concert hall, but the global shutdown induced by COVID-19 is an interval to the planet, says sarod virtuoso Amaan Ali Bangash. “Im sure that our second half will be more magical and breathtaking, god willing,” believes the 43-year-old ace classical musician.

His brother and equally accomplished sarod player Ayaan Ali Bangash, says about the lockdown: “These are historic moments that we as a race will always remember. Things will take time to heal but it’ll all fall in place in time.”

The Bangash brothers are two of the most-known faces of Indian classical tradition worldwide; they represent the seventh generation of a musical lineage, as sons and disciples of sarod icon, Ustaad Amjad Ali Khan.

With the government gradually unlocking operations and business-as-usual, India is recording a high number of cases every day, taking the total infected tally above 50 lakh cases this week. Is the classical space looking at an Unlock anytime soon?

“I guess the government is doing the best during these times. Congregations don’t help social distancing but it seems concert halls are opening in the West with social distancing precautions,” Amaan told the correspondent in an email response. According to Ayaan, “In many cases artists are doing two runs in the same evening in order to have a sparsely populated concert hall rather than a packed one to follow the current rules. This is perhaps a way forward that’ll also have to be adapted in India.”

Opening up about their music practice and time at home during this period, the duo concur that this phase was significantly different, but found music to be their constant companion.

“I think I have been living life from a different kind of a dimension, where I have been able to teach both my sons, Zohaan and Abeer for long intervals which I was unable to achieve with my travel schedules. Therefore apart from the daily retrospect and introspect, I have been able to commit myself as a teacher to them, as is my father so they are blessed,” shared Ayaan. “While I pray for the world to heal and overcome this crisis, I feel this a huge lesson for all of us to learn from. I believe we will come out of it as better versions of ourselves. Music has been a great friend as always to me during this time,” Amaan says.

How has Covid-19 impacted the classical performance space?

“Like all industries, the music industry too has been hit very badly with the pandemic especially as a congregation is the first step of the field. So many concerts and projects have all been invariably postponed, it has been a big blow, however, better to be safe than sorry. Many artists all over the world are out of jobs, many who have been associated with institutions too face the same problem. Our salutations to all the doctors, nurses and front line workers who are doing such a great job round the clock.

The brothers have just released a new album ‘Strings for Peace’ with Guitarist Sharon Isbin. “When we started out, little did we know that this creation will come to fruition at a time when humanity will need to consider meditation and contemplation more than ever. ‘Strings for Peace’, I believe is extremely relevant especially in the wake of a pandemic. We have known Sharon for a decade, and began to really work together only last year. It is difficult to create fusion as it is a marriage of different cultures and it takes a lot of time for the perfect harmony. “

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