Hello AACM Community,
I want to begin this letter by recognizing you, our dear friends and to thank you for your continued support. Together, we have managed to keep alive the vision that Khansahib held when beginning the AACM. To him, the college had many layers of meaning—and it was his request that Swapan ji and I take over this important work to ensure that students and lovers of Indian classical music always have a place to call home. The AACM is a place of study, a place to listen to music, to enjoy music, and—as per his vision—to live a life entrenched in this art form that we have all been called to. We have been able to continue this good work with the help of you, the AACM Community. So, thank you, from the bottom of my heart.
When I first came to the AACM, in the fall of 1972, the community had just celebrated Khansahib’s 50th birthday. At the time, I felt sad that I had missed what sounded like an historic concert, given by Khansahib and Shankar Ghosh ji, and a terrific party that had followed. Little did I know that I would be around for 50 more years of incredible events. I was greatly honored to have been part of the team that put together Khansahib’s 80th birthday celebration in 2002. That event ran from 1 pm – 11 pm. All-day festivals have always played a large role in AACM events, and it’s something we will continue to do for as long as we are able.
This year, we have been celebrating Khansahib’s 100th birthday. The Centennial events began on his birthday, April 14th, with the launch of a website dedicated to Khansahib and his centennial year – aliakbarkhan.com. On the website you will find community tributes to him, and a section that showcases his students in America, and the dedication they brought to the AACM, which helped to provide a vehicle for Khansahib to teach for 40 years. When thinking about this centennial year and how best to commemorate it, one thing was abundantly clear—it had to involve you. We all have such poignant memories of our time with Khansahib, of the events we attended and the moments we shared. This has been a beautiful year of remembrance and celebration together, and I look forward to what is still to come.
Also available on the website is our AAK Raga Radio, another important element we so wanted to include. The idea was that one could choose their time of day and have Khansahib’s music continuously playing for a loop of 24 hours, with the ragas being played at their correct times. For those that are unfamiliar, the concept of raga, and the time of day they correspond to, was something of the utmost importance to Khansahib and his father, Acharya Baba Allauddin Khansahib. This is a large subject, and one that is steeped in mythos from millennia ago. One of the core concepts, however, is that the notes and the ragas will have more or less potency depending on whether or not you are listening to them (or playing them) at the “correct” time of day. This 24-hour musical loop had been talked about in the Khan household for many years, so finally being able to present it was a dream come true for my family.
My daughter, Madina, and I also ticked another item off my bucket list. We curated a book of Khansahib’s quotes that range from the early 1960’s to 2001. The book is full of Khansahib’s life and ideas, and I hope it will be enjoyed by students and music lovers around the world.
The final thread of the celebrations are the monthly concerts we have been offering since his April birthday. We have presented a wide range of artists who were eager to pay their homage to Khansahib. We will continue to present these monthly events until the culmination of the year-long celebrations on April 15th, at the Old First Church in San Francisco. Please be sure to keep checking Khansahib’s website or the AACM website for information about these monthly concerts and events.
Although I did miss Khansahib’s 50th birthday, just barely, I am still here to celebrate his 100th. As the director of the AACM, it gives me great pleasure to work with such a wonderful group of teachers. Our three grown children run the AACM with me, alongside the indomitable Pandit Swapan Chaudhuri, all of whom have worked with their hearts and souls to keep this great music alive and to pass it on to the future generations of students and listeners.
Thank you for the part you have played in this longevity. We all see you, and we all appreciate you! The AACM always has been, and always will be, a family. We are lucky to count you as a part of ours.
Have a wonderful winter season.
With my warm wishes,