The Ali Akbar College of Music will present a heartfelt tribute to the late founder of the college, Ali Akbar Khan, in its annual birthday tribute. The event features an internationally acclaimed lineup of revered North Indian musicians, students and teachers of the college. Most notably, Ali Akbar Khan’s sons, Aashish Khan and Alam Khan, and dear friends and celebrated musicians, Shujaat Khan and Swapan Chaudhuri, will pay homage to his prodigious talent as a performer and teacher and his monumental cultural contribution to the Bay Area as founder of California’s oldest college of North Indian classical music, commonly referred to as Hindustani classical music.


Continuing in the Khan family musical tradition, Ustad Aashish Khan is a renowned traditional sarodist and teacher, having also composed music for film and the stage and collaborated with Indian and Western musicians such as George Harrison and Eric Clapton. Aashish Khan’s younger brother, Ustad Alam Khan, has performed as a North Indian musician and vocalist across the globe to sold-out audiences and currently teaches at the college.

Regarded as perhaps the greatest Hindustani classical musician of his generation, Ustad Shujaat Khan belongs to the Imdad Khan tradition of the sitar, having performed all over the world. Tabla master, Swapan Chaudhuri is also  recognized internationally, his music reaching beyond the classical genre to include performances with musicians such as Stevie Wonder and L. Shankar.

To all the musicians performing in his tribute, Ali Akbar Khan will forever be remembered as a virtuoso of the 25-stringed sarod, and a uniquely gifted master of Hindustani classical music. His own musical tuition was a wholly organic experience, knowledge and techniques passed down to him as they had been from generation to generation since the 16th century. Ali Akbar Khan described this learning process and the integral part his family played in preserving Hindustani classical music, “From my father, from generations of musicians in my family, I learned respect, technique, melodies, like a royal family that passes down a crown, we pass down melodies. Before my father, such melodies were learned by heart. He played over 200 instruments and created a form of notation so that others could learn these traditional melodies.”

In 1968, Khan, along with a group of dedicated students opened a year-round music school in the Bay Area where students could immerse themselves in the rigorous training and discipline needed to learn his classical tradition of North Indian music (gharana). Now more than ever, the Ali Akbar College of Music remains committed to providing long-term tuition at low fees for every devoted student and continuing Ali Akbar Khan’s work in preserving classical music for future generations.

Ali Akbar Khan’s College has attracted great Indian musicians to the Bay Area over the years and many musicians, from rock players to jazz musicians, have been influenced by his masterful performances. In inviting the public to enjoy the music of the college, students, teachers and friends of the college hope to share Ali Akbar Khan’s legacy, their ultimate wish expressed so poetically by the late master himself, “Like fresh air, or clean water. In old times, when the old maestros sang or played instruments in the temple, all the animals, birds, tigers, lions, everything, anyone came to hear the music. This music is for everyone.”

Friday, April 15, 2-10 p.m. Freight and Salvage, 2020 Addison St., Berkeley. Free afternoon programs; ticketed evening programs: $22.50 advance; $24.50 at door. (510)