Best Non-Western Classical Musician

Imrat Khan

We tend to talk of "classical music" thinking of Mozart and the boys, but India has forgotten more classical music than the West will ever have time to learn. The greatest local non-Western classical musician hails from Calcutta, India, and he comes from ancient music: Imrat Khan grew up in a family that traces its musical legacy to the court of the Moghul Emperor Akbar in the 16th century. His father, Ustad Enayet Khan, was the greatest sitar and surbahar player of his day, though Imrat Khan was more greatly influenced by his mother, Bashiran Begum, a classical vocalist. Under her tutelage, he and his brother, the famous Vilayet Khan, came to introduce the gayaki ang (or "vocal manner") into their sitar technique, which became their widely emulated signature style. Imrat Khan also inherited stewardship of the surbahar, a family instrument that compares to the sitar roughly as the cello does to the violin. Local concerts by Imrat Khan are not as common as one would wish, though they are always transporting experiences -- classical music in the keys of meditation and frenzy.
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