Fresh from the maestro's fingers

Fresh from the maestro's fingers

Soothing Mood

Large crowds swelled at the Palace Grands on Tuesday evening to watch one of the greatest musical maestros of our time – Pandit Ravi Shankar – perform along with his younger daughter Anoushka.

Virtuoso : Pandit Ravi Shankar

It isn’t everyday that the City plays host to such a talented musician — but this wasn’t the only reason that such a large gathering had assembled at the auditorium. Dramatically christened ‘Farewell to Bengaluru’, this concert was pegged to be his last performance in the City.

The concert was organised by the Premaanjali Foundation, as a part of this edition of its annual cultural festival. It was divided into two parts — first, Anoushka Shankar serenaded the audience for a duration of about forty minutes.

After a short interval, the audience’s patience was rewarded as her father took the stage. Other than these two talented sitar-players, the orchestra comprised Sanjeev Shankar on shehnai, Pirashanna Thevarajah on percussion, Tanmay Bose on tabla and Ravichandra Kulur on flute.

It came as a pleasant surprise when the concert started bang on time. Anoushka Shankar — who looked dazzling in a white ensemble — seated herself along with the rest of the orchestra, and mentioned that it was wonderful to be back in Bangalore, that too playing along with her father.

She began the evening with a classical favourite, the evening raga, or puriyadhanashree. The focus of the music remained on her sitar as well as the flute. In fact, at one point, the music gave way to a wonderful flute solo that had the audience spellbound.

She ended her portion of the concert with one of her father’s compositions, entitled ‘Variant Moods’. This was a piece that she’d played years ago with the talented musician Joshua Bell, and for this reason, she said, it had always remained one of her favourites.

After a short interval came the moment that everyone had been anticipating — Pandit Ravi Shankar walked on to stage, and the entire hall stood up to welcome him. At the age of 92, the maestro showed no signs of exhaustion. Rather, he quipped, “Namaskara, Bengaluru. I hope you recognise me — I’ve gained weight!” He too voiced his pleasure at playing in the City after many years. He also mentioned that he had heard the speed at which his daughter and the orchestra had been playing, and regretted that he couldn’t match their tempo. “But I’ll try my best!” he added.

His performance began with one of his self-confessed favourites, raga yaman kalyan. The moment he announced this, there were pleased murmurs from the audience, who obviously approved of his choice. The maestro may be more than nine decades old, yet there was a certain magic in his music.

Towards the latter half of the concert, despite obvious exhaustion, his music still retained a certain freshness and skill. His daughter and he made a fantastic duet — the notes they played complemented each other perfectly and were made even more perfect by the support of the orchestra.