The Aadi Anant Festival, on November 28, has music aficionados in a tizzy. It will see two musical greats collaborate in the city, along with other renowned artistes. Flautist Rakesh Chaurasia is all set to enthrall us, in tandem with tabla maestro Ustad Zakir Hussain. The 44-year-old Mumbaikar shares that he is nervous about his performance, even though he has performed in Chennai before. “The people here are generally very well versed with Indian classical music. You cannot play a single wrong note in front of them—they will catch you then and there. That is the best thing about this city and also something that makes me jittery,” says Chaurasia, who started playing the flute when he was five.
With the maestro
Ustad Zakir Hussain has been an integral part of Chaurasia’s globe-trotting career. Together they have mesmerised audiences in USA, the UK and across Europe, throughout the past decade. Chaurasia regards the tabla maestro a mentor and says, “The best thing about Ustadji is that, whenever you are on stage with him, he regards you as an equal. Be it stage presence, interacting with peers or the media, I’ve learned so many things from him. I always look forward to performing with him and the concert in Chennai is no different.”
With 21 albums to his credit, the flautist has long since moved out of the shadow of his famous uncle, Pandit Hari Prasad Chaurasia, and has carved an identity for himself. “To me, the flute signifies romance,” he says. Citing Lord Krishna and his uncle as the greatest influences in his life, he recalls the day he first held a flute. “There was a gathering at home for my brother’s birthday and babaji (Pandit Hari Prasad Chaurasia) suddenly asked us kids if anyone wanted to learn a music instrument. I replied that I wanted to learn the instrument he played. I didn’t even know the instrument’s name back then.”
Besides Hussain, Rakesh has collaborated with many international names such as Bela Fleck, Edgar Meyer, Joshua Redman and Marco Salaun, as well as Indian classical masters such as Pandit Bhawani Shankar, Ustad Rashid Khan and city-based pianist Anil Srinivasan. He has also done a stint in Bollywood where he worked with music directors like Lakshmikant-Pyarelal, Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy and Salim-Suleiman. “I have always looked forward to learning new things. Working with so many people has opened my eyes to new horizons in music. I will always be grateful for that,” says the versatile musician. After the concert he will focus on releasing Eternal Peace; an album that will be released in London next month.
November 28, at the Music Academy. Details: 28112231