Monday, November 5, 2007

Sitar struck

I had spotted a while back that the SF Jazz festival had Ravi and Anushka Shankar lined up for November, and thought about getting tickets and then forgot about it. By a strange turn of events, L, who is by no stretch of the imagination a fan of world music, won two tickets, and so we went.
The first part of the event was featuring Anushka with a tabla player and a flautist (the two other persons on stage seemed to have a mostly decorative role), and Ravi Shankar joined for the second half of the show. For the neophyte in Indian music that I am, this was probably the best possible combination. I have a very limited understanding of how this music works; from what I gather, it revolves a lot around intricate rhythmic patterns which are difficult for me to follow.
Having first the opportunity to hear a single sitar player, and then being able to compare it with another, was a great way to appreciate better the differences in style between musicians; and for that matter, I must say that Anushka did seem to have more depth and richness in her palette. That being said, it was difficult not to be touched by the energy and enthusiasm of Ravi Shankar; at a solid 87 years, and probably weighting around 100 pounds, he gave a non-stop performance of over one hour, and seemed to enjoy every minute of it, blinking conspiratorially to the tabla player, and going into amazing variations and permutations of the same theme. Very impressive.

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