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Posted on Mon, Oct 12, 2009 : 1:06 p.m.

Ravi, Anoushka Shankar concert to link Western pop, Indian music

By Roger LeLievre


Sitar master Ravi Shankar will perform at Hill Auditorium on Thursday, Oct. 15.

Steve Ladner

Ravi Shankar, the legendary sitarist and composer known for his pioneering work in introducing India’s classical music tradition to the West, will perform with his daughter, Anoushka, Thursday, Oct. 15 in Hill Auditorium.

John Churchville, co-founder of the local Indian music group SumKali Ensemble, said the concert is an important event for the area Indian community.

“Ravi Shankar … represents the link between Indian music and the West,” Churchville said. “He’s been a major link between Western pop culture and Indian culture through all the music that he’s done.”

This is the fourth time Shankar has appeared in Ann Arbor under the auspices of the University Musical Society.

Many American’s first became aware of Ravi Shankar when The Beatles’ George Harrison studied with him in the mid-1960s. Indian music influences showed up shortly thereafter on the group’s 1967 album “Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band,” which included Harrison’s “Within You Without You.”

“Most people are musicians simply because they play a certain instrument; when they play that instrument, the music appears,” Harrison has been quoted as saying in a 1997 interview. “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 just has that quality — she is the music. She could play the banjo, and it wouldn’t matter — she is the music.”

Ravi Shankar, born in 1920, was already a musical force in India before coming to international attention in the ’60s. He has written numerous works for Western collaborations, including his Concerto for Sitar and Orchestra, commissioned and premiered by the London Symphony Orchestra under André Previn. Shankar also collaborated with Philip Glass on the 1990 album “Passages” and the multi-artist work “Orion,” which opened the 2004 Cultural Olympiad in Greece. He has composed extensively for film and ballet, receiving Grammy and Oscar nominations for his score to “Gandhi.”

"Concerto for Sitar & Orchestra: Fourth movement: Raga Manj Khamaj [1998 Digital Remaster]" - Ravi Shankar/Terence Emery/London Symphony Orchestra/André Previn


Anoushka Shankar performs at Hill Auditorium on Thursday, Oct. 15 along with father Ravi.

Pamela Springsteen

He began teaching Anoushka when she was 9. She has since flourished as a performer and composer, exploring the crossover between Indian music and a variety of genres, including electronica, jazz, flamenco and Western classical music.

“I see all these as ways for me to keep growing and remain really fresh,” she wrote in comments on her web site. “I love getting to explore different avenues in music, and whether that’s playing with my father — which is one kind of ultimate experience in purely classical music — or having a band that’s presenting my vision of classical music in a different way, or collaborating with different artists or an orchestra, I revel in getting to do all these things.”

At age 13, she made her performance debut in New Delhi and, four years later, her first solo recording, “Anoushka.” She received a Grammy nomination for “Live at Carnegie Hall” in 2001, making her the youngest-ever nominee in the World Music category. She has made guest appearances on recordings by other artists, among them Sting, Lenny Kravitz and Thievery Corporation. Her work with Western classical musicians included a duet with violinist Joshua Bell in 2007. In January 2009 she was the sitar soloist alongside the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra for the series of concerts premiering her father’s Concerto for Sitar and Orchestra.

Anoushka Shankar and Joshua Bell performing at 2007 Verbier Festival:

Her half-sister is American pop-jazz singer Norah Jones.

"I really am a fan of combining worlds in my own life," Anoushka Shankar told NPR’s Susan Stamberg in 2005. “I live in the modern world, and I appreciate the most cutting-edge parts of it. But I also like to check out as much as I can. … I think with (the album ‘Rise’) and getting time off, it really was a question of finally making time for my music to reflect a little more of me.”

Churchville will host an educational event Tuesday evening at Kerrytown Concert House with his six-member SumKali Ensemble. “We’re going to talk a little about the instruments, talk about how Indian classical music is structured and what you might see at a Ravi Shankar performance,” he explained. “Then we’ll give a sonic picture by playing, give a little piece of what it will sound like and where the sounds are coming from.”

PREVIEW Ravi Shankar and Anoushka Shankar Who: The University Musical Society presents the legendary sitarist and composer, performing with his daughter, Anoushka. What: Songs from India’s classical music tradition. Where: Hill Auditorium, 825 N University Ave. When: 8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 15. How much: $10-$50. Info: 734-764-2538; UMS web site. Related event: Indian group SumKali Ensemble offers a free lecture and demonstration of Indian classical music Tuesday, Oct. 1, at 7 p.m. at Kerrytown Concert House, 415 N. Fourth Ave.

Roger LeLievre is a free-lance writer who covers music for


Carrie Rheingans

Mon, Oct 12, 2009 : 2:30 p.m.

I'm sooo excited to be going to this on Thursday! Great send-off to U-M's fall break :-)