Full Circle Tour

RAVI AND ANOUSHKA SHANKAR

Date15 May 2005 Venue Orpheum Theatre

Reviewer June Heywood

 

 

 

 

 


Ravi ShankarThe scalpers were out in force as the rush-seat line laced around Seymour Street. Pre-paid audience members to Caravan World Rhythm's last concert of the season were beginning to get restless with anticipation. To accommodate the latecomers, the show started twenty minutes late. To a resounding applause and palpable emotion, the full house welcomed world-renowned sitar player Ravi Shankar to the stage.

The 85-year-old sitar virtuoso is also a composer, teacher, and writer. In addition to being India's most esteemed musical ambassador, he has won the highest civilian awards from his country, France, and Britain. Mr. Shankar has written and recorded many works and performed on stages around the world since the 1960s. He has collaborated with countless influential musicians including the late violinist Yehudi Menuhin, Beatles guitarist George Harrison, and he continues to work with Philip Glass on projects such as film scores

Sunday night's performance began with an evening raga. Accompanying Ravi was his 23-year-old daughter and protégée, Anoushka. At 13, she began assisting him at concerts. At 19, she was recognized as a performer on the sitar in her own right.

The first half of the program two distinct evening ragas were played. Mr Shankar began by explaining the structures, tempos, and rhythms of each piece. Sitting cross-legged on bright flooring supplied by East India Carpets with gold and red lighting in the background, it was easy to imagine a relaxing Indian evening as the sitars talked softly. Then the playing became more intricate and more intense. With their fingers flying up and down their fret boards, Ravi and Anoushka played out a spirited dialogue on their sitars before concluding the duet with a short, clever ending.

Tabla master Tanmoy Bose joined Ravi and Anoushka in the second raga. Mr Bose has received high praise wherever he has performed around the world as a soloist or accompanist. For a number of years, he has appeared with the Shankars. On Sunday evening, Mr Bose intertwined rhythms and phrasing in a disciplined way while, from his smiles to Ravi and Anoushka, obviously feeling at ease and enjoying himself.


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The next raga gave Anoushka an opportunity to show her skill. The piece began with Ravi playing solo sitar as Kenji Ota and Jessi Carnow played their droning tanpuras in the background. The transition between the soloists was smooth. In the spotlight, Anoushka showed great maturity in the fleetness of her fingers as she displayed her musicality. Anoushka had a distinct yet complimentary style when playing with her teacher. As if reading his mind and ever watchful of his every movement, she captured then played the notes in unison with him as they carried on another raga conversation. The loud, abrupt ending caused an instant roar of applause from the thrilled audience.

Throughout the evening, it was apparent in many ways that there was a distinction between master and devoted protégée. At one point, Anoushka leaped up to tune Ravi's sitar. She swayed her head from side to side to show appreciation of a riff, a musical quote or joke. Ravi showed a master's pride in his pupil by competing with Anoushka in a duel while she repeated five notes, he played up and down his fret board, and Mr. Bose played fast and furiously on the tabla. Perhaps the aim of the dual was to eliminate the first person to miss a beat. The audience was thrilled. There was a huge roar of applause in acknowledgement of the musicians' skills and a long-standing ovation.

A touching moment ended the performance. Tanmoy Bose bowed to his master and Ravi touched his back in blessing. Anoushka's bow was lower. The master/father blessed his daughter/pupil with a kiss on the head. Then she helped him off the stage as she leaned on her arm. This may be the last time we see Ravi Shankar in person. But for those who were fortunate enough to get a seat at The Orpheum on Sunday, the memory will remain.

2005 June Heywood


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