He had used my sitar to play with the Austin Symphony Orchestra and showed me how to set it for the concerto in the green room. It was a moving experience that showed me the sheer depth of his musicality,” recalled Slawek, who treasures a “certificate” from Shankar that he could play his orchestral pieces on the sitar.

For someone from outside the Maihar school, such as Bhagwat, a disciple of Bimalendu Mukherjee of the Imdadkhani gharana, the challenges are many more. “It was a personal challenge for me to play for this concerto,” she said. “The instrument Maihar musicians is distinct as is their style of playing. But what the concerto shows us is how to work with other music systems without sounding shallow, as a lot of fusion work now does.”

Malini Nair is a writer and senior editor based in New Delhi. She is a Kalpalata Fellow for Classical Music Writings for 2021.

This article first appeared on Scroll.in.