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Zakir Hussain Concert Review

by on Sep.07, 2009, under Entertainment, Music

Last night, I went to the Zakir Hussain concert in Wichita. I thought it was OK. Zakir Hussain has amazing skills in playing the tabla. The music was good throughout the first part of the show. The thing that really hurt this part of the show was his wife, Antonia Minnecola. She was performing the dancing to the music, explaining some of the story to the dance and as best I can tell was trying to teach the audience about music. I think it was supposed to be the beat (“duh-duh, duh-duh, duh-duh-duh-dah”). To put it bluntly, she’s old. Her dancing movements were not fluid at all. I spent way too much time thinking this. Since she was the only person dancing and I’ve seen better at Diwali shows done by kids who practiced just for a few weeks it was a huge distraction and just dragged down the performance. They really need to get a better dancer, or what would be better is a group of dancers.

The second part of the show was Zakir Hussain and another person playing the harmonium. This was where his talent really showed. I was sitting about 40 feet away from him. I can’t explain how fast his hands/fingers were moving while playing the tabla except to say they were a blur. It was amazing and did not seem humanly possible.

Some other entertaining parts of the show was the head of the Cultural Association of India in Wichita, Ashok Aurora. He was in full-on mini-tyrant mode from the beginning. Some highlights:

  • Before the concert started he told those who were seated that no one can get up for the next 45 minutes. He left out the part that he meant once the show started that Zakir Hussain does not want people to move around that are in his eye line because he finds it distracting.
  • As the show was starting, someone took a picture and he flipped out. First he tried to find the person and then after having no luck made an announcement that no photography was allowed and the next person would be removed. (May want to make that announcement before hand or put up a sign.)
  • Right before the intermission, Zakhir Hussain said he would be starting again in 9.5 minutes. Then Ashok told the audience we’d have a 15 minute break. So a lot of people left to get what was basically a light dinner. As you might guess, no food or drinks were allowed inside the theater so people had to eat outside the the theater. Zakir Hussain was ready to start at 9.5 minutes (in the meantime, someone outside was announcing “X minutes left” using a 15 minute count down) and people were constantly coming in while he was trying to talk. He’d wait (and you could tell he was getting real mad), then continue, then stop again. Every time someone would come in a flood of noise from people talking outside would come into the theater. Finally he asked Ashok directly what he wants him to do. Ashok went outside and yelled at everyone that they were closing the doors and no one would be allowed back in the theater. He caused the whole problem!

Here are a couple YouTube clips of Zakir Hussain:
Zakir Hussain’s Master of Percussion – Video has  slow frame rate, but you can hear how fast the beats are.
Longer Concert Clip

Updated 9/10/2009: Another person who went to the show told us she had seen him before and he (not his wife, she agreed she stunk) put on a much better performance. It looks like he took his anger out on us during the second part of the performance.

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