Tabla maestro Zakir Hussain, one of India’s foremost musicians, has canceled a series of July performances in Israel due to “fierce opposition” from his associates and musician colleagues.
According to an official statement published in a post on concert organizer Avshalom Farjun’s Facebook page on Sunday, Hussain has “postponed” his visit, as “it seems that the personal safety of Zakir and members of his band will be in danger if indeed they hold their performances. He met with fierce opposition to a visit Israel at the moment, expressed both in person and via an online petition bearing the signatures of more than 85 Indian artists. The decision was extremely hard for Zakir, who believes passionately that music is the universal language of peace.”
Hussain’s management expressed hope that the performer, who has performed in Israel before, will be able to schedule another concert in the near future, perhaps as part of a scheduled November 2012 European tour.
The Israeli organizers of the concert said Hussain’s reservations about his Israel visit began some time ago and efforts were made to allay them, such as making arrangements for students from Ramallah to attend the concerts. The organizers wrote that it was very strange to see a security threat in July but in the same breath make overtures that a concert could take place in November.
The organizers added that the cancellation was “not the expected response from one who claims that music is the universal language of peace.”
Zakir Hussain is one of the preeminent exponents of North Indian classical music and is an internationally renowned master of the tabla, a set of two tuned drums used to play intricate patterns. He achieved worldwide fame in the 1970s playing with East-West fusion group Shakti, led by English guitarist John McLaughlin.