Tabla player Ustad Zakir Hussain, Sindhi sarangi player Asin Khan Langa, and sarod player Soumik Dutt are among the winners announced by the prestigious Aga Khan Music Awards organized by the Aga Khan Music Programme, an initiative of the Aga Khan Trust. culture Dilshad Khan, classical sarangi player of the Sikar genre, gets special mention. All four have roots in India. Dutt was born in West Bengal, grew up in Mumbai and moved to the UK at the age of 14. The remaining three live in India.
They will be publicly honored in Muscat, the capital of Oman, at a ceremony and affiliated events from October 29 to 31 in conjunction with the Aga Khan Prize for Architecture.
The master jury that named winners and special mentions for the 2022 Aga Khan Music Awards (AKMA) included Sheikha Hala bint Mohammed Al Khalifa, Director General of the Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities, Directorate General of Culture and Arts; Franziz Ali-Zadeh, Artistic Director, Silk Road International Music Festival in Azerbaijan; Divya Bhatia, Festival Director, Jodhpur RIFF (Rajasthan International Folk Festival); Rachel Cooper, Director of Culture as Diplomacy at the Asia Society New York; Yurdal Tokkan, Artistic Director, Istanbul State Turkish Music Ensemble; and Dhofer Youssef, a Tunisian musician, vocalist and composer.
In a phone call, Bhatia said, “It is a privilege and honor to be invited to the AKMA Master Jury and to work with my fellow jury members who are distinguished industry professionals from Turkey, Tunisia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain and the United States. States received hundreds of nominations, and our job as the master jury was to review these nominations and deliberate on them. Coming up with the final list from such a diverse pool of exceptionally talented nominees was not easy.”
These awards were established by Shah Karim al-Husseini, better known by his hereditary title as Agha Khan, Imam or spiritual leader of the Shia Ismaili Muslims. According to a press release issued by the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), the awards are given “to recognize exceptional creativity, commitment and initiative in music in societies with a significant Muslim presence around the world.” Shia Ismaili Muslims comprise a multi-ethnic global community who speak several languages and are spread across South Asia, Central Asia, the Middle East, Sub-Saharan Africa, North America and Europe.
In a phone call, Asin Khan Langa said, “Yeh award milna hamare liye bohot badi baat hai. Is award ke jarye hamari community aur hamare gan ka naam vi hoga. Hum apne music ko, aap paramapara ko zinda rakha chahte hai.” (Receiving this award means a lot to me. This honor will make the Langa community and people of my village known more widely. We want to keep our music and our heritage alive.”
He hails from a community of musicians in Badnabha Jagir, a village in Barmer district of Rajasthan. He sings and plays the Sindhi Sarengi, a folk instrument he is passionate about. Langa also teaches children songs. He is excited to perform in Muscat with vocalist and khartal player Zakir Khan as well as drummer Sadiq Khan. Their band was called SAZ, and the band name was derived from the first letter of each band member’s name.
Soumik Dutt, who combines his training in Hindustani classical music with pop, rock, electronica and film soundtracks, will be honored for addressing issues such as climate change, the refugee crisis and mental health through his music. “I am deeply moved to receive this award which honors my guru (Pandit Buddhadev Das Gupta), parents and mentors as well,” he said in an email reply seeking his reaction to the award. He is currently touring his stage show “Hope Notes”, which weaves the stories of refugees through the festival. He is also looking forward to a new album titled “Silent Space” which will be launched this Diwali
Hussain will receive the Special Award for Lifetime Achievement, honoring his “highly visible model of enlightened intercultural musicians who have elevated the status of tabla in India and around the world through countless artistic collaborations, concert tours, commissions, recordings and films. Score.” Apart from his status as a maestro, his contribution as a teacher will be celebrated. He has mentored thousands of people who have attended his annual tabla workshops in the San Francisco Bay Area over the past 30 years.
“Artists are hungry for opportunities to share their work,” Dilshad Khan said over the phone. I am grateful to the jury for this great honor on a global platform where I can represent India’s musical heritage. Asin Khan will play the Langa Lok sareengi and I will play the classical sareengi in a performance attended by the Aga Khan and his family.
The AKDN press release indicates that award winners and special mention recipients will “share a prize fund of $500,000 as well as professional development opportunities.” What does this mean in concrete terms? “These opportunities include commissions to create new works, contracts for recording and artist management, support for pilot education initiatives, and technical or curatorial consultancy for music archiving, preservation and dissemination projects.”
Other award winners and musicians who received special mentions from the master jury were from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Mali, Mauritania, Indonesia, Tanzania, Iran and Oman.
Why did the Aga Khan feel the need to invest time and money in promoting music?
The Aga Khan considers music to be a “powerful spiritual anchor” that “deepens a sense of community, identity and heritage, while also reaching out in powerful ways to people of diverse backgrounds”. He said this at the inaugural Aga Khan Music Awards held in March 2019. He also emphasized that “in some parts of the world, the words ‘Muslim’ and ‘music’ are not often associated together in the public mind… but they should.”
Chintan Girish Modi is a writer, journalist and academic who tweets @chintanwriting
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