Sarodist Alam Khan and sitarist Arjun Verma are collaborating with composer Jack Perla and Del Sol Performing Arts Organization (Del Sol) to compose and perform KARUNA SUPREME, a series of ensemble works based on North Indian classical music and arranged for sarode, sitar, bowed string quartet, and tabla/drumset. “Karuna” means “compassionate action” in Sanskrit, and the project title points to the importance of this quality for peaceful creative and cultural exchanges. It serves as the foundation for the artists’ collaborative process.
Alam Khan, the son and musical heir of sarode legend Ali Akbar Khan, is leading the composition process along with Arjun Verma, a musician trained in both Indian classical and Western classical music, and Jack Perla. They will use existing works of Ali Akbar Khan as inspiration to create new pieces that integrate Indian classical subtleties of melody, ornamentation, and rhythm with the rich orchestration techniques of Western classical music.
Del Sol String Quartet, the ensemble within Del Sol Performing Arts Organization, has a long history of performing works from outside the realm of Western classical music. Its musicians have a highly developed framework of understanding, notating, and playing non-standard intonation, critical skills in rendering Indian classical music.
KARUNA SUPREME was intended to premiere at the Herbst Theatre in San Francisco in March 2020, featuring performers Alam Khan (sarode), Arjun Verma (sitar), Del Sol Quartet (violins, viola, cello), and featuring Alam Khan (sarode), Arjun Verma (sitar), Del Sol Quartet (violins, viola, cello), and Nilan Chaudhuri (tabla/drumset). https://aacm.org/nilan-chaudhuri-bio/(tabla/drumset). Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the original dates were not feasible and the artists are shifting the project’s format to a recording and a possible online presentation.
Photo credit Stian Rasmussen