Artist Profiles: Ghazal Ensemble

Ghazal Ensemble

Created and led by Kayhan Kalhor and Shujaat Husain Khan, the Ghazal Ensemble has created an Indo-Persian fusion which blends two distinctive classical musics: Persian (Iranian) and Hindustani (North Indian). Intertwined for centuries in Northern India, these musics share some formal elements which allow for an exquisite and harmonious dialogue between the two traditions.

Shujaat Husain Khan, son and disciple of master sitarist Ustad Vilayat Khan, is one of the great artists of North Indian classical music today. (Both father and son played to a full house at the Flint Center as part of the Classical Music of India concert presented by Arts & Lectures last season). A sitar virtuoso, Khan is also the group’s vocalist, blending his gentle baritone with the melodic lines of the instruments.

Kayhan Kalhor, one of the most important Iranian musicians of his generation, is a virtuoso of the kamancheh and setar. Improvisation lies at the heart of both Indian and Persian classical music. According to Kalhor, “The music that we play together reflects the improvisatory styles of our cultures. This means taking a small idea or melodic form or phrase and developing it into something much larger, beyond its primary character.”

The Persian and Indian traditions are, in a sense, musical cousins. In fact, there is a connection that goes beyond the notes themselves: Several centuries of Moghul rule in northern India left a strong imprint on Hindustani music: a result of the mysticism, poetry, and musical subtleties of the Persian language and culture. The name Ghazal reflects that link: in the Persian tradition, a ghazal is a specific genre of poetry, characterized by an unusual blend of ecstatic spirituality and earthy desires. In India, ghazal has evolved into a form of semi-classical music that remains popular to this day, and usually takes the form of a love ballad.

Discography:

Ghazal: Lost Songs of the Silk Road (Shanachie, 1997)
As Night Falls on the Silk Road (Shanachie, 1998)
Moon Rise Over the Silk Road (Shanachie, 2000)
The Rain (ECM, 2003)

Author: Angel Romero

Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music music for many years. He founded the websites worldmusiccentral.org and musicasdelmundo.com. Angel produced several TV specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for TelevisiĆ³n EspaƱola (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World.

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