The Russian Cultural Center experienced a drizzle of soft music on Friday, June 10. The source of this music was Aakash Saha, the classical guitarist from India. Saha is a chamber musician and a composer as well. The event was organized by the Indian Cultural Center, Amaranath Guitar Academy and the Asian Guitar Federation. A graduate of the Chicago College of Performing Arts, Saha was trained by Denis Azabagic, the legendary virtuoso of the classical guitar. It was a full house that revived under his music that night, to the pleasure of the organizers of the event.
Saha entertained his audience with pieces from several different composers. It included popluar pieces from European and Latino composers. He captured the audience with his opening pieces, which included Preludes number 4, number 3 and number 1 by Heitor Villa-Lobos. As the evening progressed he played Torija by F.M. Torroba, Sonata in C Major Opus 15 number 1 by Mauro Giuliani, Cancion de Cuna by Leo Brouwer, Prelude in D Major BWV 997, Prelude from Cello Suite number 1 by J.S Bach and Theme and Variation on a folk song by Atahualpa Yupanqui – by Maximo Diego Pujol.
As he played he held the guitar at a rough 45 degrees angle to the floor, the most common position for classical guitarists. Once or twice he had eyes close to fret board. His face expressed his emotions as music flowed from his guitar, enchanting the audience with each ensuing piece. It was pin-drop silence. Even the children listened to him, with rapt attention, which was unusual. One could say that the audience held their breath while Saha worked his magic, lost in his music.
His unpredictable chord progressions and smooth transitions between nodes and frets are noteworthy. Saha enthralled his audience with his enchanting leads and chord progressions. It was a perfect balancing act. He emphasizes on distorted chords, which is one of the many things that captured the audience. He ended his playing with and epic finale, where he combined innovative plays and slap to the bridge in his playing.
At the end of the playing the auditorium burst with thunderous applause and the young guitarist received a standing ovation. Saha took it with modest embarrassment and gracefully bowed to the audience. “It was amazing, I am quite lost for words at the moment,” he commented to Nation afterwards. “I am high on post-concert adrenaline right now,” he said.
Director of Indian Cultural Center Rajashree Behera said, “The music, as everybody here realized was mesmerizing. This was a lovely evening. Aakash is a very young and talented guitarist and India is very fortunate to have him. Classical guitar has not been popular in this part of the world. People have a notion that India does not favour western music. This is not true. India is a mix of the East and the West. This is the beginning and the end for us, to break that ice. This will go far and well.”
Amaranath Ranatunga, Classical and Flamenco guitarist opined to Nation as follows. “In my younger days when we had a concert, the hall was almost empty. Very few used to come to classical guitar concerts. Today the hall was full as we could all see. When a talented artiste like Aakash performs here, it encourages all students and enthusiasts of classical guitar. Most of my students were in the audience. They loved the performance.”