Performance Friday, April 24, 2015 | 8:30 PM

In the Footsteps of Babur

Musical Encounters from the Lands of the Mughals

Zankel Hall
This program brings together remarkable musicians from Afghanistan, India, and Tajikistan in celebration of the exuberant vitality of the Mughal court in the 16th century. Produced by the Aga Khan Music Initiative, a program of the Aga Khan Trust for Culture.


  • Homayun Sakhi, Afghan Rubab
    Rahul Sharma, Santur
    Salar Nader, Tabla and Zerbaghali
    Sirojiddin Juraev, Dutar and Tanbur
    Mukhtor Muborakqadomov, Badakhshani Setar


  • Homayun Sakhi

    Since immigrating to the Uni-ted States in 2002, Homayun Sakhi has established a worldwide reputation as the outstanding Afghan rubab player of his generation. Born in Kabul into one of Afghanistan's leading musical families, he studied rubab with his father, Ustad Ghulam Sakhi, in the traditional form of apprenticeship known as ustad-shagird. Ghulam Sakhi was heir to a musical lineage that began in the 1860s, when the ruler of Kabul, Amir Sher Ali Khan, brought classically trained musicians from India to perform at his court. Over the next hundred years, Indian musicians thrived there, and Kabul became a center for the performance of North Indian classical music. Musicians in Kabul also cultivated the art of playing the rubab, which was prominent in regional folk music. Today, the people of Afghanistan regard the rubab with great pride as their national instrument. Homayun Sakhi currently resides in Fremont, California, a major cultural center of Afghan émigré life, where he opened a school to teach Afghan music to children. His busy performance schedule regularly takes him to cities around the world.

    Rahul Sharma

    Born in Mumbai in 1972, Rahul Sharma is heir to the Indian classical santur tradition established by his esteemed father, Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma. "It wasn't a preconceived idea that I would become a professional musician," Rahul recounted. "I majored in economics at university and didn't begin performing publicly on the santur until I was around 22. But once I started, it just took off. In the last dozen years, I've probably released more than 40 albums and had a lot of opportunities to collaborate with international musicians. I've always enjoyed composing. Ever since I was a kid, I played the Casio synthesizer and composed my own tunes. Composing offers freedom from the discipline of classical music. When I was growing up, I was fascinated not just by Indian classical music, but by world music and rock. I listened to the Beatles, Pink Floyd, Celtic music, and Sting. Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan's collaborations with Michael Brook inspired me. So I thought, 'Why don't I do something like this with santur?' I've always had a desire to experiment. I played with Shakti and John McLaughlin, and with percussionist Zakir Hussain and mandolin player U. Srinivas. The santur is not just a classical instrument. It has a whole different side. My father established the santur in the classical mode. Now it's ready to head off into new realms. I'm still experimenting."

    Salar Nader

    Salar Nader is one of his generation's leading performers on the tabla. His parents emigrated from Afghanistan to Germany, where Nader was born in 1981. At the age of three, he came to the United States, and at age seven, he began formal tabla study with renowned tabla master Ustad Zakir Hussain. Nader frequently accompanies Homayun Sakhi and other performers of Afghan and North Indian classical music. He is also active as a performer in world percussion and jazz-fusion groups. A resident of San Francisco, Nader recently appeared as an onstage musician in an American theatrical adaptation of Khaled Hosseini's bestselling novel, The Kite Runner. In addition to his performance activities, Salar is a devoted teacher of tabla.

    Sirojiddin Juraev

    Sirojiddin Juraev comes from a lineage of dutar players in his native region of northern Tajikistan. "Both my father and grandfather played the dutar," said Sirojiddin, "and my first ustad was my father. Later, I studied at the Music College in Khujand and at Khujand University, and after that, at the Academy of Maqam in Dushanbe, where my ustad was Abduvali Abdurashidov. I listen a lot to old recordings of the great ustads, and when I hear something I really like, I try to learn those tunes. Now I teach dutar in the National Conservatory in Dushanbe. When I feel inspired, I also compose my own music on the dutar. If you listen a lot to old records that are inspiring, there should be an urge to compose. You can't compose from a void. There has to be an inspiration that comes from listening to a master."

    Mukhtor Muborakqadomov

    Badakhshani setar player Mukhtor Muborakqadomov makes his home in a village near Khorog, Tajikistan, the regional capital of Tajik Badakhshan and Badakhshan's largest city, with a population of around 40,000. "I began playing the setar when I was in eighth grade. I learned by ear from my uncle," said Mukhtor. "I've never learned to read music. I like Indian music and frequently listen to it, so probably that's why my style sounds Indian."


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At a Glance

“In the month of Ramadan of the year 899 (June 1494) and in the 12th year of my age, I became ruler in the country of Ferghana.” Thus begins the remarkable autobiography of Zahiruddin Muhammad Babur, the precocious Central Asian nobleman whose journey of conquest through Afghanistan and Hindustan—the northern part of the Indian subcontinent—laid the foundation of the Mughal Empire. Fusing cultural influences from Persia, Central Asia, and India, the Mughals created a brilliant intellectual and artistic efflorescence whose legacy remains strong today. In the Footsteps of Babur represents a modern-day encore of Mughal artistic synthesis. Inspired by visual images and literary descriptions of exuberant music-making in the Mughal courts, the Aga Khan Music Initiative brought together musicians from Afghanistan, India, and Tajikistan with the aim of merging their talents, traditions, and musical instruments to create new sounds.
Program Notes
Presented by Carnegie Hall in partnership with Robert Browning Associates LLC.
This performance is part of World Views.