Father daughter duo Pandit Ravi Shankar with Anoushka Shankar are set to transport Southern California’s multigenerational music loving audience into the ethereal world with spell-binding music of classical raga and rhythm.
Apart from playing alongside with her famed father, Anoushka, a two-time Grammy nominee is also known for her solo work which explores the hybridization of Indian music with a variety of genres including flamenco, electronica, jazz and Western classical music. Her recent album “Traveller” produced by flamenco expert, Javier Limón, combines Indian and Spanish musical traditions.
Although most of sitar maestro Shankar’s concerts are uninhibited improvisations, he typically begins with a melodic meditative prelude on the sitar nudging the audience into introspection with its low and mournful yet ecstatic phrases which often introduce notes one at a time. Shankar will later escalate to select evening ragas to accentuate not only the raga’s tonal beauty but also to stimulate moods and emotions in the audience particular to the time of night.
Smattered within the night’s musical finale will be a presentation of Ragamalika or a garland of ragas. Music flows and ragas smoothly transition from one to another as audiences revel in Shankar’s favorite original compositions with a bold fast-paced mix of Indian folk songs and ragas that exercise freedom, spontaneity and showcase the intense training of each artist.
Tanmoy Bose will accompany the artists on tabla “an indispensible member in the global fraternity of percussion,” explains Shekar Viswanathan, managing trustee of The Indian Fine Arts Academy of San Diego (IFAASD). Ravichandra Kulur will play the flute with B.C. Manjunath on mridangam.
Although fortune bestows itself to the lucky few, it is how one utilizes the proverbial silver spoon that distinguishes a winner, which Shankar aptly proved in his lifetime. Born into a well off Brahmin family and self admittedly spoiled by a life of world travels, Shankar explains how he adapted to the rigors of discipline, “My brother Uday Shankar inspired me to value the importance of the quality of performance and presentation while being a part of his company.”
Shankar had already earned an early success as a musician and dancer and “realized that if I wanted to become an excellent sitar player I had to make the choice of giving up everything and to go and live in the village with my guru and contend with a very basic life.” Shankar expands “usually a student becomes eager to perform after learning a little, I fortunately did not have this urge as I had already experienced the thrill of performing in front of large audiences and instead spent more years than most students with my Guru Baba Allauddin, a traditionalist who took me under his wings and taught me the true Gurukul style.”
On the evolutionary shift of Indian music and training Shankar recommends good teachers and personal sincerity but also comments “the combination of technological advances and the desire to do something new have caused rapid changes which are sometimes jarring. Indian classical music is not just about display of speed, virtuosity and technical achievements. It is marked by the navarasa and bhavas. It is a deep spiritual and meditative approach as long as the musician does not lose his or her music it will be beautiful.”
The maestro also reflected on one of his favorite performances that occurred in the mid-seventies. Shankar performed for the sage of Kanchi Maha Periyaval. “It was the circumstances under which I played which was memorable. An elephant was nearby and the sun was right above us, in scorching heat I was completely wet with sweat. Normally the instruments would have been problematic under those circumstances but strangely the sitar did not go out of tune once through the entire hour long concert.” Shankar continues “Dear Bhai Alla Rakha, my regular accompanist for 25 years was with me on that day, it was beautiful, I played Todi and Bhairavi, every one was in a trance.”
At the enriched age of 91, Shankar is far from grinding down and is constantly rejuvenating his musical repertoire with new compositions of ragas and songs.
The concert is presented by the Center for World Music and IFAASD, along with The Ravi Shankar Foundation.
Sunday, November 4, 7:30 p.m. Long Beach Convention Center, Terrace Theater, 300 East Ocean Boulevard, Long Beach. Tickets: $35 – $80. Box office: (562) 436-3661, (800) 745-3000. http://www.ticketmaster.com/Ravi-Shankar-tickets/artist/734335. http://www.ravishankar.org.