A Divine Sitar Concert in Pittsburgh by Ustad Shahid Parvez Khan

By Priyadarshan Manohar, Squirrel Hill, PA

Editor’s Note: Dr. Priyadarshan Manohar has been interested in music for a long time through his association with Marathi musical theater. He has written and produced a few musical plays and created some singing shows for the Pittsburgh community. He has studied Tabla for some time.

What do you get when you combine the culmination of six generations of professional sitar playing heritage and one of India’s most talented artists known for vocalist phrasing of raga improvisation? The answer, Ustad Shahid Parvez Khan.  It was a divine evening at Chatham University’s Eddy Theater on Saturday, September 21 when the Ustad brilliantly displayed his skills on sitar, with Pandit Samir Chaterjee accompanying him on the tabla.

Chandayan, a non-profit organization founded in Calcutta that has branches all over the world, organized the program to the delight of Pittsburgh’s Indian classical music lovers. Chandayan is dedicated to the promotion and preservation of Indian music, dance and culture.

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Ustad Shahid Parvez Khan, a world-renowned sitar player, is the recipient of prestigious awards including Padmashree by the Government of India. He has also received the Sangeet Natak Academy award, the most prestigious award in musical theater in India. The Ustad belongs to the seventh generation of sitar player in the Etawa Gharana. Pandit Samir Chaterjee, a wonderful artist in his own right, who has performed all over the world, is the backbone of Chandayan.  

Ustad Shahid Parvez Khan started the concert with aalap in the raga Yaman in Rupak and Teentaal. He explained that raga is neither a mood nor a melody but a framework for melodically and aesthetically bringing out the mood and the emotions of the time of the day and the season of the year.

He played on the sitar with so much elegance and dexterity that at times it felt as if he was playing the beat, the notes and the words all at the same time just on his sitar.

It was a well-attended ticketed program.

He continued his concert with jod-aalap with the tabla accompanying him. It was wonderful to hear the sitar sometimes sounding as if it was a quiet stream of water flowing, sometimes as frantic as rapids, sometimes with an abandonment and energy of a waterfall, and sometimes reflective and introverted with the depth and patience of an ocean.

Ustad Shahid Parvez presented two gats in taal Rupak and Teentaal in the second half of the concert. He played a lovely tune of the famous Hindi song Mohe Panghat Pe Nandlal based on raga Pilu. His sitar was practically singing the innermost amorous emotions of Radha for her God Shreekrishna (Nandalaal). The most delicate tunes created by the Ustad on his sitar touched the hearts of the audience.

The dhun in Khamaj was so melodious and sweet that at times it felt like a pleasant evening breeze touching the soul. Like a butterfly hovering on the flowers. Like a river joyfully meandering through a valley…and sometimes even like an enchantress walking down the red carpet who is fully aware of her grace, beauty and immaculate style.

Parvez Khan ended the concert with a mesmerizing gat in raga Desh in Ektaal. Accompaniment on tabla by Pandit Samir Chaterjee was perfectly in rhythm with the sitar music like old friends walking together, step for step enjoying each other’s company.

It was an enchanting musical experience and a great evening overall.  Many thanks to Chandayan for bringing this musical feast to Pittsburgh. We look forward to attending many more concerts in town! END 


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