To music connoisseurs around the world, if music has a holy trinity the three names would probably be Bach, Mozart and Beethoven. Razef Khan, the only trained cellist of the country is passionately introducing Johann Sebastian Bach to the Dhaka audience with his captivating performances. He is a multifaceted cellist who shuns categorisation. Trained in Western Classical, he has a deep interest in broad genres of music, such as folk, jazz and contemporary classical. He expressed his feelings and understanding of Johann Bach in a simple note “Being immersed in Bach's music has a sense of transcendence. It's another world we enter, as performers or listeners.”
Razef Khan is from a prominent cultural family of the country; he is the grandson of educationist and Nazrul sangeet exponent late Husna Banu Khanam. Husna Banu Khanam was the only sister of late Fateh Lohani and Fazle Lohani.
Over the years, Razef has performed with leading orchestras. He also performed with “Cellish” a cello ensemble consisting of professional cellists from around the world. He has had the opportunity to co-compose and perform with Swiss Double Bassist, Raffael Bietenhader (Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra) for the “Danubia”, and performed with his teacher Robert Choi and Raffael Bitenhader for “Improvisation for lower strings” concert at the Dewan Filharmonik Petronas, while also appearing in various events around Kuala Lumpur.
Locally, he has performed at Bengal Gallery with flutist Lena Olausson from Sweden and the Bangladesh National Orchestra and Team at the Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy. He has done a solo cello recital at EMK Center, Dhaka. Recently he participated in a jazz workshop in Kathmandu Jazz Conservatory representing Bangladesh.
He studied cello with Simon Cobcroft (Associate principal cellist at Queensland Symphony Orchestra) and then with Robert Choi (Vienna chamber players).
His cello master classes include playing under Miranda Harding (Storstroms Kammerensemble), Reinhard Armleader (Karlsruher-Konzert- Duo) and chamber music master classes with Anna Kandinskia (Salzburg Mozarteum) and Lisa Smirnova (Recording artist with ECM).
A true believer in creating awareness of the importance of arts education, he has held the position of head cello teacher at the Musica Academy. He has conducted orchestration and cello technique demonstration at the American International School for the International Baccalaureate programme and other schools.
Razef Khan is currently freelancing with projects locally and internationally, while also teaching music theory, solfège and music history at schools along with giving private lessons in cello, composition and piano.
The writer is vice-president PEN International, Bangladesh Centre