Growing up in an extraordinary musical household, siblings Sabuj Ahmed, Shanto Ahmed and Kamrul Ahmed from Narayanganj, received special guidance in classical music from a young age. They are now established as a trio of classical musicians called The Ahmed Brothers. Sabuj, the eldest of the three, plays the tabla, while Shanto, the middle sibling, specialises in the violin, and Kamrul, the youngest one, plays the flute. They are the third generation of musicians in their family.
The brothers see their parents as their first musical gurus. Their education in classical music began at home with their father, Ustad Shamsul Haque, who was a great musician, equally equipped to play the flute and clarinet in his time. He was also a student of well-known flutist and composer Pandit Pannalal Ghosh. On the other hand, from the start, their inspiration behind keeping up with their practice and honing their skills regularly has been their mother, Amela Begum. Interestingly, all three of them can play the tabla, as learning how to play it, is considered a long-held tradition in the family. Further to this, violinist Jyoti Sankar Roy and flutist Sudip Chattopadhyay from Kolkata are teachers of Shanto and Kamrul respectively. Sabuj's teachers are Tabla maestros Pandit Sanjay Mukhopadhyay and Biplab Bhattacharya.
For as long as they can remember, the three of them have always been passionate about building a career in music. Their debut instrumental performance together as The Ahmed Brothers was at Sadarang Uchchanga Sangeet Parisad in Chittagong in 2014. The brothers mention that Ustad Swarnamoy Chakraborty, who started the activities of the organisation, gave them the encouragement they needed before their first performance. The audience was simply captivated by their performance at the programme.
Since then, The Ahmed Brothers have performed in different venues across the country, accompanied many soloists and appeared on various television programmes. They have also collaborated with many noted music directors such as Anwar Parvez, Alauddin Ali, Alam Khan, Lucky Akhand and many others.
For the trio, being descendants of gifted classical musicians serves as the greatest sense of responsibility. “We are aware that we have certain expectations to live up to. So, we are continuously striving for perfection and working hard to put our best foot forward,” says Kamrul, who has worked with musicians ranging from the renowned Runa Laila and Andrew Kishore to many promising artistes of today.
Forming a strong sibling partnership, especially in a field as cut-throat as music, was also rewarding for the passionate musicians. According to Sabuj, as a musical group, the brothers have an amazing understanding and chemistry with one another, the kind which is not always possible to have with people outside of one's family.
They also discussed whether today, professional success in the industry is based on an artiste's ability to play the instrument or it relies more on their ability to market themselves. “Skill and popularity are the two sides of being a musician. Most importantly, a musician should focus on learning how to play the instrument well. Popularity will follow,” says Sabuj.
The brothers believe that classical and commercial music may sound different, but at the heart of it, their concern is the same: to entertain people through their beauty and joy. “Our work carries the intention of dissolving the division between the two forms of music because one is not superior to the other,” Sabuj asserts. Soon, The Ahmed Brothers plan to release an instrumental album.