Skip to main content

'Just a humble custodian of this art form': Quartet from India teaching Calgary students at Arts Commons


Ayann Ali Bangash grew up in a musical family and has been playing an instrument as long as he can remember.

He's the son of Maestro Amjad Ali Khan and in Calgary for a one-day performance of their show, Strings for Peace, at Arts Commons on March 22.

Ali Bangash is passionate about playing the sarod and showing others the music it makes.

But a day before the group hits the stage, he's making time to spend with Grade 4 students from Bayside Elementary School.

"It's just so wonderful to interact with children," Ali Bangash said.

"Because I think they are the most innocent and pure energy to have around you and they're extremely smart. I'm quite comfortable with this age group but it's always interesting to hear what they're going to ask next, because they come up with the most random and amazing and the most deep kinds of questions."

Ali Bangash is the seventh generation of his family to play the sarod.

He's played for audiences worldwide and recently played five cities in India with his 10-year-old twins.

"The sarod was modified from a folk instrument that came from Central Asia called the rebab and that found its way in Persia and is still played all around the Middle East and that moved to India and I think around the time of the Industrial Revolution," he said.

"It's less tangy than the sitar. It has a more deeper resonance and it has a kind of a more low end, so obviously, but it has a special sound."

His dad is credited with reinventing the technique of playing the sarod.

"Over the course of a distinguished career spanning more than six decades, Amjad Ali Khan has won numerous accolades including a Grammy nomination, the Crystal Award by the World Economic Forum, Unicef's National Ambassadorship and the Fukuoka Cultural grand prize," Ali Khan's biography reads.

"Ali Khan has made regular appearances at concert halls all over the world including Carnegie Hall, the Royal Albert Hall, Royal Festival Hall, Sydney Opera House, Suntory Hall in Tokyo, Esplanade Singapore, the Kennedy Center and Symphony Center in Chicago."

According to his biography, he has "performed at festivals worldwide including the Hong Kong Arts Festival, Edinburgh International Festival, WOMAD, World Beat Festival, Enescu Festival Bucharest and the BBC Proms, as well as for prestigious organizations such as the United Nations, UNESCO, World Arts Summit and for the Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony in Oslo in 2014."

Ali Bangash says he's honoured to be able to not only learn from his father but to play on stage with him.

"I'm very fortunate for the very fact that just sitting alongside him on stage is a blessing, let alone playing together," he said.

"But I'm just a humble custodian of this art form. We're trying to take this forward with dignity, grace and humility."

Ali Bangash will be joined on stage by his father, brother Amaan and tabla player Amit Kavthekar, along with Juilliard School guitar department founder Sharon Isbin at Arts Commons on March 22 at 7:30 pm. Top Stories

Stay Connected