Creativity needs a world of peace, says Ustad Amjad Ali Khan

Kolkata: Creativity can be harnessed only in a peaceful world, sarod maestro Ustad Amjad Ali Khan says, voicing concern over the mounting threats to peace since the 9/11 attacks in the US 10 years ago and the recent retaliatory killing of Osama bin Laden.

"For any creative activity you need a peaceful world. That peace has been under threat ever since the 9/11 attacks in New York and the retaliation against Osama bin Laden in Pakistan.

"I hope all terror leaders would consider the future of children, including their own," the master musician told IANS in an interview. Bin Laden, the Al Qaeda chief who masterminded the Sep 11, 2001, attack on the World Trade Centre towers in New York that killed over 3,000 people, was finally hunted down and killed by US Navy SEALS in the city of Abbottabad in Pakistan May 1.

"Collectively we have to provide peace and harmony, especially for the future of the next generation," Khan said while expressing anguish over the sense of insecurity that curtails creativity and compassion.

He added: "It is very sad that mere education could not create compassion and kindness among human beings. All these disasters and violence are planned and created by highly educated people."

"I think there is something wrong in our school education system. Children should be taught the value of love, peace and harmony more than mathematics and English," he said.

Khan was in Kolkata to receive a lifetime achievement award from luxury accessories maker Mont Blanc and Dakshinee, a premier music academy.

The honour was conferred on the occasion of the 150th birth anniversary celebrations of Rabindranath Tagore.

The 65-year-old musical genius, regarded as the world`s finest sarod player, feels strongly about music at a time when peace is under threat.

However, he believes that music will reflect the life around us.

He said in spite of the invasion of electronics on traditional music and musical instruments, the country has outstanding young musicians.

"There are young and outstandingly talented musicians in India, from the south and from the north," Khan said.

The next generation has a lot of advantages with the digital revolution taking place in music production.

"In my time it was only the good old radio and later only one television channel."

The maestro, on whom Padma Vibhushan was conferred in 2001, is well in tune with the changing world of music.

His latest album "Samaagam" is a collaboration with European classical music.

"I have composed a special piece for the Scottish Chamber Orchestra. This is the first `sarod concerto` in the history of Indian classical Music. I am playing with 50 European musicians," Khan said.

He hoped that people who loved sarod and symphony would enjoy listening to the album.

Asked whether he will compose any special piece of music or album on the occasion of the Tagore anniversary, the maestro said: `I would like to do another album."

Khan recalled: "I first paid my tribute to Tagore, together with Suchitra Mitra (legendary exponent of Tagore`s songs) 15 to 20 years back."

The album was "Tribute to Tagore" - the first time Rabindra Sangeet was played on sarod the way the songs were composed by Gurudev.

Khan, a recipient of several national and international awards, said he had great regards for the contributions of Tagore as a composer.

"The world knows him only as a great poet. But he was an equally great composer," he said.


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