Sitar Diva Anoushka Shankar Will Raga Rock Washington


April 11, 2012

Presented by the Washington Performing Arts Society (WPAS) at GWU Lisner Auditorium on Friday, April 13, at 8:00pm, “Anoushka and the ‘Traveller’ Ensemble,” is Anoushka Shankar’s latest fusion experiment of Indian classical raga and the gypsy-flavored Spanish flamenco. Traveller has had successful tours of Europe, UAE, and India.

By Staff Reporter & Columnist, Sam Prasad JillellaSpecial to MYDOSTI.COM

WASHINGTON DC, April, 10 — The word ‘sitar,’ for millions in every continent, has become synonymous with Ravi Shankar.

Sitar was popularized in the West and globally by India’s iconic musician, Pundit Ravi Shankar. As a teenage dancer and musician, in the 1930s, he was already appearing on the great stages of the world, from New York’s Carnegie Hall to Paris’s Theatre du Champs-Elysees. From 1961, he toured Europe, the United States, and Australia. He brought North Indian classical music to international audiences decades before the term “world music” was coined. He blew the crowd away with his masterly performance at Monterey Pop Festival in 1967, and at Woodstock in 1969.

Ravi Shankar won three Grammys and numerous international awards and honorable citations.

Sitar sensation Anoushka Shankar

Ravi Shankar’s two gifted daughters are Anoushka Shankar, and Nora Jones — Anoushka, a protégée born in London, is a twice Grammy-nominated world music composer and performer. Nora Jones, born in the US, is a multiple Grammy-award winning folk-country-jazz singer

You got it? Now, you know what I am talking about.

Anoushka has performed at sold-out shows, many times, in Washington DC, but this Friday will be her first performance with her ‘Traveller’ ensemble, in DC. The family friendly concert, presented by WPAS, is going to be enjoyable and enchanting, I am sure.

Anoushka has made an indelible impression as a prized multitalented musician. She plays the piano, but her primary instrument is sitar, and her primary music is Indian classical.

Sitar, a plucked string instrument, is mechanically a complicated musical instrument. It bears sympathetic strings — which are tuned, but not plucked, they simply vibrate and hum when the strings nearby are played — as well as movable frets, and over 20 strings.

Anoushka embraced Indian classical music growing up in that musical environment She recounts: “It was natural because that’s what I listened to all the time, there were classes going on every day in my house. Musicians lived in my house and learnt music from my dad.”

Anoushka dazzled thousands with her musicianship by the time she reached her teens. Her name may have brought her to the stage for the first time as a young girl, but it is her talent, vision, and dedication that have kept her there.

Anoushka, to millions around the world, like her father, has become synonymous with the sitar. Although she still loves performing in the Indian classical realm, Anoushka found her own musical voice in world music.

In an interview with INDIA THIS WEEK, Anoushka said: “I have always loved flamenco music, from a very young age. I don’t know why.”

She added: “When I first heard flamenco, I felt I could relate to it. Years later, after studying Indian classical music, I came back to flamenco with a trained ear. And, I saw a lot of similarities, though they are two different kinds of music.”

In Traveller — her debut album on Deutsche Grammophon — Anoushka finds her way into the nuances of modern flamenco through the vivid lens of Hindustani technique.

Reflecting on the making of the album, Traveller, legendry producer, Javier Limón says: “It was beautiful. Anoushka changed my life: now I have a different concept of the music. When she played granaína, it was like hearing a flamenco singer, not a flamenco guitar: that’s the amazing thing. I think that guitar players are going to learn a lot from her. How she expresses the melodies makes me cry.”

Traveller projects the spiritual link between two highly evolved forms of musical expression, from their ancient gestation to their modern zenith.

“It was a love of the music that inspired me to make this flamenco album and bring together these two traditions” says Anoushka. “There’s always been that pull towards something I find very similar in flamenco to what I cherish in Indian classical music.”

Flamenco has its roots in India, and many of the modern exponents of this tradition are keen to emphasize that connection. The modern popular Spanish band Ojos de Brujo, and the lesser known Indialucía ebulliently celebrate flamenco’s Eastern heritage.

About eight centuries ago, it is believed, the gypsies came from Rajasthan, India and brought a lot from there to the flamenco music. They created flamenco with the Christians and Jews in Spain, and with the Arabs. There are a lot of things in common with both the musical forms.

“Flamenco is very young, about 200 years old. For me, flamenco is like the little brother of Indian music” says Anoushka.

Anoushka Shankar, the angelic world music icon and her six-member raga-flamenco fusion band will entertain Washingtonians at GWU Lisner Auditorium.

“It was a wonderful experience creating this album. There are different artists — we have done recordings in Madrid, Paris, London, and India. I am really happy about the recording. I am generally not content with my work. I keep making changes. But,here is an album, I can say, I am happy about. It’s a part of my journey as a musician, and I am proud of where I am as a musician,” Anoushka claimed.

Beatle George Harrison, it is reported, said of Anoushka in 1997: “Most people are musicians simply because they play a certain instrument; when they play that instrument, the music appears. But Ravi — to me, he is the music; it just happens to be that he plays the Sitar. And it’s like that with Anoushka. She has that quality — she is the music.”

‘Traveller’ is an exciting musical expedition you will enjoy.  Get on board!

Community Special by MYDOSTI.COM