Zakir Hussain is today appreciated both in the field of percussion and the music world as both an international phenomenon and one of the greatest musicians of our time. Courtesy photo

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Top Indian percussionists join preeminent classical tabla virtuoso

By From page B10 | March 19, 2014

Indian music is one of the jewels of the world’s cultural heritage, and there is nothing like a Masters of Percussion tour to bring that point home. Zakir Hussain & The Masters of Percussion bring their special talents to Harris Center for the Arts for one performance only on March 22.

Hussain is today appreciated both in the field of percussion and the music world as both an international phenomenon and one of the greatest musicians of our time. This preeminent classical tabla virtuoso delivers brilliant performances that have established him as a national treasure in his native India and one of the worlds most esteemed and influential musicians.

Hussain is renowned for his genre-defying collaborations with people like John McLaughlin (Shakti), Mickey Hart (Planet Drum) and Charles Lloyd (Sangam) and artists as diverse as George Harrison, YoYo Ma, Van Morrison and Mark Morris. A child prodigy, he received the distinct honor of co-composing the opening music for the Summer Olympics in Atlanta, 1996.

One of his regular collaborations is Masters of Percussion, an outgrowth of his early tours with his father, the legendary Ustad Allarakha.  Since 1996, he has taken the cream of India’s percussionists (along with one or two melody players) around the U.S. and world. Joining Hussain will be Selvaganesh Vinayakram (Kanjira and Ghatam), Steve Smith (Western Drums), Niladri Kumar (Sitar), Dilshad Khan, (Sarangi), Deepak Bhatt (Dhol) and Vijay Chavan (Dholki). It should be noted that Steve Smith is the first non-Indian drummer to be invited to join the Masters — quite a distinction.

A child prodigy, Hussain was touring by the age of 12. He came to the United States in 1970, performing his first concert at the Fillmore East in New York City with Pandit Ravi Shankar, embarking on an illustrious international career where he is widely considered a chief architect of the contemporary world music movement.

His music and extraordinary contribution to the music world were honored in April 2009 with four widely heralded and sold-out concerts at Carnegie Hall’s Artist Perspective series. He was commissioned to compose music for Alonzo King’s Lines Ballet (for which he received an Isadora Duncan Award) and to compose an original work for the San Francisco Jazz. Later, his commissioned work for choreographer Mark Morris’ Kolam premiered as part of YoYo Ma’s “Silk Road Project” with YoYo Ma and Hussain performing together live for the performance. A “Triple Concerto for Banjo, Bass and Tabla,” a piece co-composed by Hussain, Edgar Meyer and Bela Fleck, was performed by them with the Nashville Symphony at the gala opening of the Schermerhorn Symphony Hall in Nashville. Years later, it was re-created with the Detroit Symphony, again under the baton of Leonard Slatkin. This performance and new original works composed by Hussain, Edgar and Bela, was released as “The Melody of Rhythm.”

Zakir Hussain & Masters of Percussion will perform on at 8 p.m. on Saturday, March 22. Tickets are $25 to $39 with premium seats available for $49; students with ID pat$12. Tickets are available online at harriscenter.net or from Harris Center ticket office at (916) 608-6888 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and two hours before show time. Parking is included in the price of the ticket. Harris Center is located on the west side of Folsom Lake College campus in Folsom, facing East Bidwell Street.

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