Zakir Hussain, Pt Shivkumar Sharma to celebrate 40 years of togetherness

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By Hindustan Times

Classical music enthusiasts can look forward to a fun-filled evening, when stalwarts Pandit Shivkumar Sharma and Ustad Zakir Hussain join forces and celebrate their 40 years of performing together. The event is set to take place on January 15, and will feature the famous duo enthralling the
audiences with their popular jugalbandi and symphonies. Proceeds from the concert will be used to support a school in Gujarat.

We also got talking to Pandit Sharma about his relationship with the tabla maestro and their journey together:

How would you describe your on-stage chemistry with Ustad Zakir Hussain?
Fans of Indian classical music around the world say that Zakir has the best understanding of my music and when both of us play together, it becomes a special experience for them. I think the reason for this is that Zakir has played in many concerts with me in his career. We’ve travelled together across the world. So besides understanding my music, he also understands me on a personal level. That makes a lot of difference.

How’s your off-stage relationship?
Whenever we are together, travelling or otherwise, we hardly discuss music. There’s a lot of laughter because I love telling him stories and anecdotes. Whenever he is free, he comes home and we spend quality time together over good food and conversations.

Tell us a special memory, or a story that you recall about him?
There are so many incidents. One of them happened in India, when we were supposed to play in Kharagpur (West Bengal). We had to catch an early morning flight from Mumbai to Kolkata and then take a train. Zakir missed the flight from Mumbai. When I reached Kolkata, I informed the organisers and they arranged for another table player. Forty-five minutes into the performance, we saw Zakir entering the hall with his tabla. We were all very surprised. He had changed three flights and drove from Kolkata to Kharagpur to arrive at the concert. The audience couldn’t resist, and they wanted Zakir to take on the stage. It was a very embarrassing situation for the tabla player who was already playing with me but out of his respect for both of us, he invited Zakir on the stage to perform with me. This incident is very close to me because Zakir made it to the concert only because he did not want me to be in a situation.

Have you decided something about the course of your concert on January 15?
We never plan or rehearse ahead of concerts. That is the beauty of Indian classical music. It is always spontaneous, unplanned and is thus improvised. Zakir and I will decide about the performance when we enter the auditorium.

Tell us about your upcoming tours?
After our concerts in India, we’ll be touring in the USA in March and April this year.

What do you feel about the present scene of Indian classical music and do you think the genre is in safe hands?
Today’s musicians are brilliant. They have a lot of exposure to good music and have the ability to communicate. As far as the santoor is concerned, my son and disciple Rahul Sharma has created an identity of his own and the listeners say that santoor is in safe hands.

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