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Program for Utsav Lal & Manik Khan

Friday, November 19, 2021 at 8 pm

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Utsav Lal, piano
Manik Khan, sarod

About the music

In this unique duet concert of piano and sarod, known in Indian Classical Music as a ‘jugalbandi’, Utsav Lal and Manik Khan come together to seamlessly blend their experiences and explore North Indian Classical Music with nuance and depth. The evening has in store a fascinating repertoire of ragas presented in their traditional form and splendour and the artists celebrate Indian Classical Music through their own musical styles, in a unified and singular creative vision.

The highly acclaimed musicians—Utsav Lal, a disciple of Ustad Wasifuddin Dagar from the Dagarvani Dhrupad vocal tradition and Manik Khan, son of the legendary Ustad Ali Akbar Khan from the Maihar tradition, represent the new generation of Indian Classical Music exponents. At O1C, the artists perform together for the first time ever, and bring a meeting of a great musical legacy, being perpetuated in two traditions that are distinctly different and yet the same. With their individual acoustic instruments, Lal and Khan offer a musical confluence that flows from the expansive range of the piano to the deep resonant tone of the sarod.

Dating back centuries, with extraordinarily elaborate rules & systems to govern pitch, rhythm and structure, Indian Classical Music is one of the most ancient classical traditions on earth and at the very heart and soul of Indian music is the raga. For the uninitiated, Indian Classical Music moves from slow and meditative to pulsing and ecstatic. Music that is captivating with great range and variety in tempo and emotion, the concert will begin with the traditional solo exploratory style of Alap-Jod-Jhala. The music is completely improvised within strict guidelines of the tradition and the raga slowly expands from a single note outward to complex waves of rhythms and virtuosic passages.

To enjoy the evening to the utmost, one must relax into the rhythmic and melodic patterns of a great cultural heritage & allow the musicians to take you on to an unexplored musical sojourn of ragas!

About the artists

Indian pianist/composer Utsav Lal, often known as the ‘Raga Pianist’ is recognized as the rarest of pianists. Stunning the world with his innovative handling of Indian Classical Music on a Western instrument, The Irish Times describes Utsav Lal as “a fleet-fingered performer whose best moments can be both highly evocative and dazzling.” Lal’s ground-breaking work has garnered an impressive career spanning two decades, with solo performances at world famous venues like Carnegie Hall (New York), Southbank Centre (London), Kennedy Center (Washington DC), Steinway Hall (New York), Asia Society (Hong Kong), Arts Center (Melbourne).

Treading the careful line between an ancient tradition and the innate desire for innovation with utmost respect, Lal’s music is acclaimed for its sincerity, depth and powerful intensity. With unfailing clarity of technique and rhythmic virtuosity, his work is deeply influenced by Dhrupad and gains inspiration from a vast array of sources such as The Necks, Thelonious Monk, Tsegué-Maryam Guèbrou and Cecil Taylor. Lal has challenged commonly understood ways of improvisation to develop his own unique voice for the piano, taking stage at leading festivals including Novara Jazz (Italy), San Francisco Silent Film (USA) AsiaTopa Festival (Australia), Masters of Tradition (Ireland).

Endorsed as Young Steinway Artist, TiE Aspire Young Indian Achiever, Yamaha Jazz Scholar, Lal has been recognized for his extensive collaborative work with Irish, Scottish, Jazz and Experimental artists including leading names like Martin Hayes, Dennis Cahill, Winifred Horan, Australian Contemporary Circus Theatre CIRCA, Talvin Singh, George Brooks, Rajna Swaminathan. Lal has 7 solo record releases which include a historic world’s first album on the microtonal ‘Fluid Piano’ (2016). Lal holds a Masters in Contemporary Improvisation (New England Conservatory of Music), Bachelor’s in Jazz (Royal Conservatoire of Scotland) and is a disciple of Dhrupad vocalist Ustad F. Wasifuddin Dagar.

Manik Khan is the youngest son of the legendary maestro, Ustad Ali Akbar Khan. His life has been steeped in the ancient tradition of North Indian classical music since birth; his childhood was spent listening to his father in countless concerts, and attending his classes at the Ali Akbar College of Music.

He initially started studying Tabla under the tutelage of Pandit Swapan Chaudhuri but, wanting to follow in the footsteps of his family, began his formal training in the Sarod with his father at the age of 13. Manik spent his formative years accompanying his father and elder brother (Alam Khan) on stage, touring for the last decade of his father’s extensive performance career.

Alongside a solo concert career, he has worked with various ensembles to present his father’s music in a way that has seldom been heard before. This includes working with Bay Area schools to bring Indian Classical Music to their youth orchestras, and collaborating with conductor Michael Morgan and the Fremont Symphony Orchestra.

Manik resides in the San Francisco Bay Area, where he continues his musical studies with his elder brother. He currently is teaching at the Ali Akbar College of Music, and is working to preserve and continue his family’s legacy – helping to keep this tradition of India’s rich cultural history alive and flourishing.

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