Collaboration brings Irish and Indian music together

The sounds of the Indian stringed sarod and strains of the uilleann pipes and harp can be heard together in Co Cork next Sunday in an innovative international collaboration.

Ustad Wajahat Khan and Peadar Ó Riada collaborate on 'Continuing Traditions'.

Indian classical musician Ustad Wajahat Khan, a renowned sarod virtuoso and composer, and Cork multi-instrumentalist, composer, and choir director Peadar Ó Riada, have formed the ensemble ‘Continuing Traditions’.

Performing in the Ionad Cultúrtha an Dochtúir Ó Loingsigh in Baile Mhúirne, the ensemble includes six master musicians playing traditional instruments and percussion from their respective genres.

The Indian sarod, tanpura, and tabla will be complemented by the sounds of the concertina, accordion, whistle, harp, flute, and uilleann pipes.

The performance includes sections of ragas (melodic framework) and taals (rhythmic time cycles) of Indian classical music, composed and performed by Wajahat Khan, along with tanpura and tabla musicians.

Irish slow airs, reels, marches, and slides composed and performed by Ó Riada will feature Mick O’Brien on pipes and Oisín Morrison on harp.

This will be followed by collaboratory compositions consisting of elements from both musical genres, jointly composed by Ó Riada and Khan. Each is continuing the family tradition of musicianship and composition of their influential fathers, Seán Ó Riada and Ustad Imrat Khan.

Wajahat Khan, who shares his time between London and Calcutta, has performed in more than 40 countries, at venues including the Smithsonian in Washington DC, Berlin Symphony Hall, and London’s Royal Albert Hall.

A film of the collaboration, made by Anú Pictures, is in production, and traces the story from Peadar Ó Riada’s first encounter with the Khan family, when in 1981 they were invited to perform in Cúil Aodha at the 10th anniversary commemoration of Seán Ó Riada’s passing.

Starting with Peadar’s BMus thesis on the relationship between Irish music and Vedic culture in 1976, followed by years of correspondence, Wajahat visited Cúil Aodha in 2017 to re-explore a musical conversation of the two traditions that “reawakened ties that had been dormant for centuries”.

‘Continuing Traditions’, July 8, 8pm; tickets €20.

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