March 23, 2011 was the day—what a day indeed! Ustad Amjad Ali Khan and his two sons—Amaan Ali Khan and Ayaan Ali Khan playing together; Nehru Park, Delhi was the venue; and evening was the time. It was a lovely experience to watch the stalwarts of Sarod play together in open. The concert was organized by SPIC-MACAY as a part of a series named “Music in the Park”. Incidentally, I took my wife along with me and this happened to be her first-ever concert of Indian classical music. Without doubt (I was skeptical though), she liked it and asked me: “When is the next one?” Good music can charm almost everybody. (!)
It was very nice to see Mrs. Subbalakshmi Khan, who was invited to light the lamp in the beginning of the concert. I had read about her in the book written by the sons: “Abba, God’s greatest gift to us”. Therefore, it was very nice to see all of them together in one function.
As the concert began at 7:00 PM, the emcees announced the structure of the concert. In the start, the sons would play, followed by Ustad Ji in solo and at the end, they together will play.
Amaan and Ayaan began by introducing the accompanists and started with Raga Puriya Dhanashi: Rashid Mustafa Thirakwa and Fateh Singh Gangani on Tabla. After Alap, Jor and Jhala, they played Gati in Dhamar Taal and later in Teen Taal. By all means, it was a difficult Raga and Dhamar was a difficult rhythm. But they played it beautifully. I could people recognizing the Teen Taal because it is more open and catchy.
When they finished, Ayaan cordially invited Ustad Amjad Ali Khan Ji and they moved towards the green room. Watching Ustad Ji play in live was a dream come true. He was his usual humble self on stage bowing to the audience and throwing a soft demeanor. He candidly mentioned that he liked the performance of his sons, which he felt was very good for Ragas (this was a genuine appreciation of a father, who wanted his sons to respect the Ragas like a devotee).
In his own solo performance, Ustad Ji played some compositions. He started with a composition of Rabindranath Tagore—Aikla chalo re (translates to: walk alone if nobody walks with you). There was a huge clapping in the audience as Bengali audience was aplenty.
Later on, he played some compositions that he recorded when he was 18 years old. He played compositions in Raga Darbari, Megh, Piya ki Malhaar and Kaunsi Kanhra. The music was soft and very enjoyable.
Then, for the concluding performance, he called upon his sons and they started in Raga Desh.
Overall, it was a one-of-its-kind experience for me, as I have always dreamt that I would enjoy all the masteries of Indian classical music performing live.