The Week, January 2012
I am always worried that I should never be the cause of humiliation to music especially while travelling and performing abroad. My sons and I feel like Ambassadors of our country and every member of a group should remain in complete discipline while representing their country. For the sake of the promotion and propagation of Indian culture, our government has been giving grants to many cultural organizations in all over India to educate young musicians and dancers. I am sure the young students are committed and dedicated to taking full advantage of the opportunity to learn the art and also carry it forward. None of the famous musicians of today represent any institution. In fact, most of them learnt under the Guru Shishya Parampara, which is the age old system where the Shishyas lived with the Gurus and also served as the Guru like domestic help. The purpose or philosophy behind this was not to only learn the music but to absorb and understand music as way of life.

Classical music or musicians can’t be promoted. They are not a product like instant coffee or shower gels. If the fragrance of music is appealing you don’t need to impose or force it upon people. I believe that to see a positive and constructive future for music, all the classical events should be ticketed and most of the proceeds could be offered to artists who are needy and/or ailing. All over the world and all over India except perhaps Delhi, people buy tickets to attend classical music concerts. Buying the ticket is giving respect and also patronage to Art. Organizations on the name of promoting classical music have started an ‘all are welcome’ or ‘all free events’. This will, in time, prove to be disastrous for the future of this timeless art form. Anything which is free loses its sanctity!

Recently, my sons Amaan and Ayaan were invited by the Baba Harivallabh Sangeet Sammelan held in Jalandhar. This was their 136th year and makes this the oldest music festival of India. I was invited for the first time in the year 1964. My grandfather Nanneh Khan and my guru and father Haafiz Ali Khan Saheb also paid their homage to the Saint Baba Harivallabh. This music season, I concluded the Chinnaiyil Thiruvaiyaru music festival in Chennai on Christmas day. The quality of audience in Chennai is always so inspiring. I also recently performed in Pune with Zakir Hussain after a gap of twenty five years! I was back in Pune a week later to perform a tribute concert at the prestigious Sawai Gandharva music festival. This was the first time the creator of this festival and my elder brother Bhimsen Joshi was not in the audience. I missed his presence very much. I am grateful to the Police and all the officers of administration of Pune who relaxed all the rules for me to continue my concert till the time audience desired to hear my music. There were over fifteen thousand people in the audience.

I am so happy to know that the State of Bihar is to enter its 100th year with much fanfare. From the time when I was seventeen or eighteen years old, I have been invited to perform in Bihar almost every year. I remember all the great classical musicians and dancers in Patna during the occasion of Durga Puja celebrations. Among the classical musicians we will always remember the celebrated dhrupad singer Ram Chatur Malik. The singing diva Roshan Ara Begum, the daughter of Legendary Abdul Karim Khan Saheb of Kirana Gharana, was born in Patna. Sitarist Rameshwar Pathak and the Sarangi genius Bundu Khan Saheb also lived in Patna. Interestingly even the Shehnai Maestro Bismillah Khan was born in Dumraon in Bihar. A famous Sarod Player of Bihar DevNarain Jha was the disciple of my father Haafiz Ali Khan Saheb. Due to Political reasons music festivals in Bihar could not flourish for many years. I am very happy to know that present Chief Minister of Bihar Mr. Nitish Kumar, is taking interest in art and culture and encouraging music festivals all over Bihar. The richness of the culture and diversity can be listed endlessly. It is important to preserve the vibrant heritage of this state as India progress into the global age.

I wish all my readers peaceful harmonious and musical 2012.Hope all of you achieve everything you deserve and desire. God bless!