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Arts Festival Review: Ravi Shankar

Arts Festival Review: Ravi Shankar

Review by Nick van Dijk

Ravi Shankar with Anoushka Shankar and group
Michael Fowler Centre
12 March


This was a concert of classical Indian music of the highest level. Anoushka Shankar played the first half before her father joined the band. She was accompanied by two Tamboura players (stringed drones), a wooden flautist and Tabla player. Anoushka's rich and dazzling Sitar was matched in conversation with Tanmoy Bose on Tabla, who at first lagged behind the beat a little but very soon hit the groove with her. There were tinges of rock and pop music woven into the scalar raga improvisations.

The second half had the venerable Ravi Shanka take to the stage, the music immediately taking on a hypnotic and meditative quality, due also to the Lydian dusk raga. His style is full of character and nuance, the mind and fingers still sprightly and vigorous for a man of 89 years. However, in most exchanges it was his most talented daughter Anoushka who shone with her singing tone and wide joyous awareness in the music. Echoes of the Beatles, John McGlachlan and John Abercrombie were evident, although who is to say which came first?

The sound was like angels' oars, sending ripples to a far shore through still water. The final lengthy composition received a rapturous standing ovation from an enriched audience who probably will not encounter Ravi Shanka again. Although Ravi is a great musician, icon and musical ambassador, it was his daughter and Tanmoy Bose who deserved the most plaudits in this performance. The character and liveliness of the father shone through.

Of the concerts I have had the pleasure of seeing in the festival this was the only one I felt actually deserved its ovation.

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Arts Festival website: Ravi Shankar
Scoop Full Coverage: Arts Festival 2010

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