Review: ‘Ravi & Anoushka Shankar’

To your average American listener, a performance of Indian classical music can be a mystifying affair. Yet the most interesting aspect of the Shankars' sold-out perf at the Royce was the immediate emotional appeal of his music. Much as the structure of this material -- with its ragas (the basic melodic format of Indian classical music), melas (the parent scales on which the ragas are based) and talas (each raga's particular rhythmic cycle) -- is extremely complex, there's a deep spirituality to these sounds that is accessible to anyone open enough to surrender to its one-of-a-kind mystique.</B>

REMEMBER TO REMOVE THE HEADLINE AT THE VERY BOTTOM.

Ravi & Anoushka Shankar

(Royce Hall; 1,800 seats; $65 top)

Presented by the Ravi Shankar Foundation. Band: Ravi Shankar, Anoushka Shankar, Bikram Ghosh, Tanmoy Bose, Paul Livingstone. Reviewed Sept. 26, 2002.

By ERNESTO LECHNER

To your average American listener, a performance of Indian classical music can be a mystifying affair. Yet the most interesting aspect of the Shankars’ sold-out perf at the Royce was the immediate emotional appeal of his music. Much as the structure of this material — with its ragas (the basic melodic format of Indian classical music), melas (the parent scales on which the ragas are based) and talas (each raga’s particular rhythmic cycle) — is extremely complex, there’s a deep spirituality to these sounds that is accessible to anyone open enough to surrender to its one-of-a-kind mystique.

Ravi’s daughter and sitar protegee Anoushka (a successful artist in her own right) began the concert as a soloist, and was later joined by her father on what would become the most soul-stirring part of the program.

The Shankars were accompanied by two tanpuras (the string instrument that provides Indian music’s distinctive, ever-present drone) and two tablas, which at one point provided a fiery, virtuoso duet. Still, the night belonged to 82-year-old Ravi, his sharp, soulful notes and imposing presence.

The interplay between both sitars was particularly delightful. At times, Anoushka would play a simple, repetitive pattern, which was then complemented by Ravi’s labyrinthine improvisations. Then Ravi would perform an intricate melody and prompt Anoushka to mimic him, engaging her in a battle of virtuoso plucking. Father and daughter smiled at each other, clearly relishing each other’s company and engaging in vibrant musical dialogues.

In the end, a couple of hours into a Ravi Shankar performance, an out-of-body experience is not out of the question.

Ravi & Anoushka Shankar

Ravi & Anoushka Shankar

Royce Hall; 1,800 seats; $65 top

Production

Presented by the Ravi Shankar Foundation. Reviewed Sept. 26, 2002.

Cast

Band: Ravi Shankar, Anoushka Shankar, Bikram Ghosh, Tanmoy Bose, Paul Livingstone.
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