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15 Questions to Adam Khan

img  Tobias

Hi! How are you? Where are you?
I am well, I just started training for a marathon so I have aching feet!! I am in London doing some recording where I spend a lot of my time even though I live in Bristol.

What’s on your schedule right now?

I am off to Peru for a few concerts then I will get back to recording my new solo cd of the complete solo works of renaissance composer Luys De Narvaez it is a big project which involves transcribing the pieces from the original 16th century Vihuela tablature, It will be released towards the end of the year. I am also promoting my new duo cd of Leo Brouwer’s complete works for guitar duo, It was recorded with the excellent Argentine guitarist Luis Eduardo Orias Diz in Buenos Aires last year. The CD also features music from Argentina by Walter Heinze and British composers Steve Marsh (Clumber rain suite) and John Duarte (English suite op.77)

If you hadn’t chosen for music, what do you think you would do right now?
Difficult to say, I have been involved in music since I was about 10 years old but I was a pretty good Painter and even won a few national prizes for my paintings as a kid so maybe an artist.

What or who was your biggest influence as an artist?

In general terms the Ukrainian/American pianist Shura Cherkassky is one of the biggest influences over my approach to interpretation and performance. I love the way he took risks in live performance and pushed the music to its absolute limit, His 80th Birthday live recording from carniege hall is a perfect example of this, He makes the music his own and never compromises his own artistic belief. In the guitar world I have always enjoyed the playing of Eduardo Fernandez, as well as being a great player he has a fantastic musical knowledge. I met him in Uruguay last year and although it was a brief encounter he left a deep impression on me and my playing.

What’s the hardest part about being a musician and what’s the best?

The best part is performing live, the feeling you get a few minutes before walking on stage is something magical, It’s like the begining of a journey , you don’t know where the music and the audience will take you. The hardest part is the constant uncertainty about the future, being a musician is a way of life not a job and you can never really switch off from it.

What’s your view on the classical music scene at present? Is there a crisis?

As far as solo instrumental music is concerned there is a problem, maybe not a crisis but people in todays society find it difficult to concentrate on one thing for a long period of time, I think concerts could be slightly shorter and maybe less formal to attract a more diverse audience along.

Some feel there is no need to record classical music any more, that it’s all been done before. What do you tell them?

There is always room for fresh interpretation of music, a hundred artists would paint the same vase of flowers in a hundred diffrent ways, it’s the same with music.

What constitutes a good live performance in your opinion? What’s your approach to performing on stage?
Somebody who is prepared to takes risks, to me the idea of playing the same music in the same way every night is really dull. It brings me back to Cherkassky, I remember somebody telling me that the poblem with him was that you never new which of his personalities he was going to bring to the concert, but I think thats great and not a problem it’s  pure ‘live’ emotion.
My approach is not to have an approach but to follow the music and feel how far you can take a particular audience. It does not always work but thats what makes it exciting.

What does the word “interpretation” mean to you?

Adding the colours to a black and white score.

How do you balance the need to to put your personal emotions into the music you play and the intentions of the composer?
Well I think the composer gives you the basic frame work but it is up to you to breath life into the music. I think authenticity is important especially in early music but if we can’t channel our own emotions through their music it might as well be a trained monkey playing!.

True or false: People need to be educated about classical music, before they can really appreciate it.

In General it’s false. But, with some comtemporary music knowing the background of a piece or the ideas behind it can really help the audience create some kind of picture in their head of what the composer is trying to say.

You are given the position of artistic director of a concert hall. What would be on your program for this season?
A real variety of music. I would get John Mclaughlin and his group Shakti , I come from a south asian background and I love the way they fuse east and west.The amazing Jazz pianist/singer Aziza Mustafa Zadeh, her live performances are fantastic. The Vihuelist Hopkinson Smith, Ivo Pogorelich, rock band Faster Pussycat!, A wondeful group of Bulgarian Musicians called Lot Lorien, My old mate Jamie Quinn (underground urban music artist ‘matrix’) and some pakistani qawalli music for my dad!

How would you describe the relationship with your instrument?

We have good days and bad days!

Have you ever tried playing a different instrument? If yes, how good were you at it?
I played Piano for a few years but not to a very high standard, I have been learning Tabla recently which is much harder than I imagined!.

A Day in November (Dinmore) 2003
Interludio (Pai Records) 2007

Adam Khan

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