at Philadelphia, at my cousin's (hmm...is my dad's uncle's daughter a cousin? perhaps a question that is unique to Indians !!) place - as usual, lots of stuffing myself, and we went for a concert, by Anup Jalota and Ustaad Zakir Hussain.
Anup Jalota had the audience eating out of his hand within minutes - some funny anecdotes and light-hearted banter with the audience soon took care of that. However, IMHO he could have avoided inserting film songs into ghazals - somehow, it took away from the sanctity one associates with ghazals. But then, the majority of the audience seemed to lap it up; perhaps the seasoned performer (apparently he performs up to an astounding 12 times a month) gauged the audience anticipation correctly.
Ustaad Zakir Hussain, on the other hand, resorted to no gimmickry. There's something endearing about his whole persona, although I did find his humility rather exaggerated. He gently rebuked some idiot who had his cellphone trilling shrilly (which kind of nincompoop keeps his cell phone on during a live concert anyway!!). Then he proceeded to give a brief introduction to the history of the tabla (these are not the exact words used, merely a summary of sorts):
According to Hindu mythology, Lord Shiva's drum (known as the dhamru) represents sound as the very first element in a newly created universe; it encompasses every sound ever emitted by any aspect of nature. Perhaps by inheritance, Lord Ganesh is also an accomplished player of the mridangam, and this is why very often many tabla players pay obeisance to Lord Ganesha. Thus, there is almost a spiritual element attached to the whole art of tabla playing.
Then we have the various styles or schools of music, known as gharanas. A gharana usually develops when a maestro begins to present songs in a distinct, individual style. The gharana is then passed on to disciples, who then enrich it by adding more and more subtle elements to it until it becomes almost a culture. The tabla gharanas are all named after the places where they were developed - the Punjab gharana, and the Benares gharana, for instance.
The ustaad then proceed to play a few solo pieces, after which there was a session where both Anupa Jalota and Zakir Hussain played together. IMO, this was easily the best session, especially the Hindustani classical song at the end.
An evening well spent, eventually.