SOAS University of London

Richard Williams and Sanju Sahai perform with Ustad Wajahat Khan and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

13 May 2022

Two members of SOAS Music have performed alongside Ustad Wajahat Khan, a master of the north Indian sarod and a celebrated composer, when he recorded with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. The concert, which featured Dr Richard Williams, Senior Lecturer in Music and South Asian Studies, on the tanpura, and Sanju Vishnu Sahai, a leading authority of the tabla who teaches the instrument to SOAS students, was released on 11 May and can be watched here

Ustad Wajahat Khan showcased a programme of Western and north Indian art music, and his original approach to fusion. The RPO opened proceedings with works by Mozart and Samuel Barber, conducted by David Murphy, before the Indian sequence, centering on Wajahat Khan’s performance in Rag Pilu. These two forms of music were then brought into conversation through the Ustad’s Sarod Concerto No.3, based on Rag Desh, which blended the ranging tones of the sarod with the sounds and textures of a chamber orchestra.

Dr Williams said: “This concert really highlighted the distinctive qualities of two musical systems, yet also showed how effectively they can be brought together. You can hear the Ustad and the orchestra respond to one another, and their synergy is dazzling.”