Harvard Sangeet

As part of Harvard Sangeet's new Artist-in-Profile project, we will focus every month on a prominent musical personality and his or her contribution to the musical world. Each profile will highlight the artist's musical education, most notable accolades, and current artistic pursuits. The profile will also feature links to samples of the artist's works.

The Artist-in-Profile for the month of January is Ustad Zakir Hussain.

A renowned artist in the field of percussion and the music world more broadly, Zakir Hussain is an unparalleled tabla virtuoso. He has garnered fame for his dexterity, intuition, and aesthetic appeal not only in his native India but around the globe.

The son of tabla legend Ustad Allah Rakha, Zakir was a child prodigy, beginning his first concert tour at the tender age of twelve.  He came to the United States in 1970, accelerating his career to one that boasts no fewer than 150 concerts per year. 

Beyond his skill as a performing artist, Zakir has gained fame and accolade for his compositions as well, most notably for co-composing the opening music for the Atlanta Summer Olympics in 1996. He has also been the recipient of the Isadora Duncan Award for his composition in Lines, and participated in the Pew Memorial Trusts program, Meet the Composer.  His collaborative projects include a 2000 production in collaboration with Alonzo King, choreographer for The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre; a 2002 work with Mark Morris's "Kolam," which debuted as part of cellist YoYo Ma's "Silk Road Project"; and in 2007, Zakir was chosen by the government of India to compose an anthem, "Jai Hind," for the country's 60th year of independence.

Zakir has also received innumerable honors, including Padma Bhushan (2002) and Padma Shri (1988), awarded by the Indian government; the Indo-American Award for outstanding U.S.-India cultural relations; the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award (1991), awarded by the President of India; and the National Heritage Fellowship (1999), awarded by First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton before the U.S. Senate.

Zakir has expanded his pursuits to the business side in 1992, when he founded Moment! Records, which features contemporary, collaborative world music and sponsors live performances by classical Indian artists.  Moment!'s 2006 recording of "Golden Strings of the Sarod," with Aashish Khan and Zakir Hussein won the Grammy for Best Traditional World Music this past year.

Zakir's dynamism rhythmically and musically, his genius as a collaborative artist, and his dedication to the arts have won him a permanent place in the pantheon of leading classical artists, and his work will no doubt continue to influence scores of musicians to come.

Profile information from: Moment Records

Articles, Weblinks, and Musical Clips

Past Artists-in-Profile


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