Anil Srinivasan and Sharik Hasan in Concert as part of the "HWMF-celebrates-5-years-concert-series"
KEYS TO INDIA CONCERT
The Invitation blurb: “Keys to India has been conceptualised by Anil Srinivasan, Chennai-based classical-contemporary pianist and Sharik Hasan, New York-based Jazz pianist”.
Anil and Sharik say that ‘Keys to India is a spontaneous sharing and interaction of two creative minds”, and though they come from different places musically - Anil Srinivasan has been trained, just as Sharik Hasan has been, in Western Classical piano, but went on to find his unique place as a musician playing Indian music, Indian contemporary and Indian classical music. And Sharik Hasan found his metier in jazz. The duo, find through their music, “a common ground to bring people together in harmony… in these times of polarisation and divisiveness… of communities, and of different religions, classes and backgrounds. Where music is used to transcend distinctions between peoples and place the arts in the service of the community and not place the community in the service of the arts’.
The Hyderabad Concert held at the Hyderabad Public School hall on 30th August 2014 is the last leg of a five city tour of India that the duo has been performing at.
It was interesting to see on the stage, two pianos, with the two pianists facing each other. And during the concert, what was noteworthy, was that though the pianists represented different genres of music, they shared a great empathy and enjoyed the process of creating and playing with each other.
The pianists had divided the concert into four parts which they called Nature, Romance, The Human condition, or triumph of the human spirit and Seasons.
In the first part, ‘Nature’, Sharik started solo with the haunting and lustrous song Nature Boy. Anil then did his solo of a Schubert composition which recalled the season of Spring, he then carried on by interpreting a Carnatic classical piece that was made famous by M.S. Subbulakshmi the renowned Carnatic vocalist. To end this part called Seasons, the two pianists dueted on Autumn Leaves.
The second part, ‘Romance’, was interpreted with Sharik starting with Gershwin’s I Loves you Porgy, he was joined by Anil who played on his keys, some striking, Indian classical, sitar-strum like glissandos on this tune. They went on to do Cindy Lauper’s Time after Time, after which, Anil took the lead in playing a danceworthy, rhythmic Tillana.
The third part, ‘The Human Condition’ was started by Anil playing Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata, selected to represent the ‘Triumph of the Human Spirit’ as Anil announced, because Beethoven wrote this piece when he was deaf and had to resort to unorthodox methods to try and hear the piano. Sharik followed up on this with his own composition called Hymn, and this was followed by the Anil and Sharik collaborating on a piece called Everybody Hurts written by the Alternate Rock group, R. E. M. This piece, the way this duo exposed it, brought out many melodic aspects of this song imaginatively and creatively, giving it a completely new outlook.
The next part was called ‘Seasons’. In this part of the programme, the duo played Sharik’s composition Jack ‘O’ Lantern, which had a very Indian feel to it. And then Anil played a couple of Indian Classical compositions based on Raga Basant usually sung in Spring. The two then collaborated on My Favourite Things, from The Sound of Music, which turned out to be a fun outing, with both the pianists enjoying themselves, bringing out the mischief and humour in them, and making music that sounded at times like carousel music that we hear we hear on a merry-go-round.
The concert ended with a sombre though uplifting rendition by both the pianists in a unique collaboration, of Vande Mataram, the Hymn to the Motherland, by Bankim Chandra Chatterji, which played an inspiring part in India’s struggle for freedom from British Imperialism.
A remarkable feature was that both the pianists displayed a refinement of touch and technique that brought polish and elegance to the music throughout the evening. And though they often played independent solos, whenever they played together, their musical interactions were seamless and smooth, they dovetailed and segued rhythms, chords and runs artfully without ever colliding or competing; producing inventions that were at times sublime and sometimes poetic and always charming.
The audience enjoyed the performance and particularly got a sense of partipation when they recognised Anil Srinivasan’s pianistic quotes and references to popular Indian tunes that he incorporated in his piano outings.
This was indeed a unique and enjoyable collaboration that was gifted to the audience with the wonderful Idea of bringing about communal harmony through music.
The concert Keys to India was brought to Hyderabad through the efforts of Alap, an initiative in the performing arts which collaborates with artistes, aiding them in aspects of production, promotion, curation, etc.
And the Hyderabad Western Music Foundation, whose tagline Sharing Music. Creating Harmony, reflects their belief that music has the power to pervade borders, resolve differences, unite people, propagate pluralism - and create harmony through music.
And of course, the two pianos from Musee Musicale and the wonderful arrangements and the use of the Hall, by Hyderabad Public School, made the concert an evening to remember.
write-up by Pratap Antony
Video during sound-check: Moon River
KEYS TO INDIA, A piano duet by Anil Srinivasan and Sharik Hasan
August 30 at 7.30 pm at The Hyderabad Public School, Begumpet. All are welcome.
A concert of collaboration, Keys to India has been conceptualised by Anil Srinivasan, Chennai-
based classical-contemporary pianist and Sharik Hasan, New York-based jazz pianist. The
collaboration, a creation of the two artistes and aptly called Keys to India is inspired by their
respective religions - Hinduism and Islam. The performance is an attempt to showcase classical-
contemporary music that goes beyond religious classifications and ethnic identities. A coming
together of two pianos and pianists of international repute for the first time, Keys to India will
be a spontaneous sharing and interaction of two creative minds. Crafted anew to respect the
sensibilities of the piano, this collaboration will showcase Indian music at its best, and is, in a
sense, representative of fierce nationalistic pride and the notion of equality and brotherhood. The
event is being curated by Aalaap, a national performing arts’ initiative based in Chennai.