Master of his craft

Sitar Concert

Master of his craft

A concert by Paul Livingstone was held recently at St Andrew’s Church on Cubbon Road.

For those who gathered at the venue, the programme provided a soothing experience and some much-needed relaxation.  The artiste for the evening, Paul, is a Los Angeles-based musician who studied under the late Pandit Ravi Shankar.  The finesse that he must have picked up from the acclaimed guru was obvious during his performance. 

Accompanied by Vishwanath Nakod on tabla, this sitar-player started the evening’s performance by greeting everyone with a namaskara and a brief introduction to the pieces that he was going to perform.

He began with a piece in raga jayajaganti and another composition in teen taal, set to 16 beats. The piece had a slow, meditative feel, which set the tone for the rest of the evening. 

The members of the audience were serenaded with soft, lilting notes. While playing, Paul swayed to the rhythm of the music — all these little actions added to the positive response of the audience. After a short break, he came back with the second set, called ‘Hymns & Journey of Faith’. In this, he performed a sitar version of the doxology, a hymn that Paul grew up with and loves.

Talking about this piece, Paul says, “The piece that I performed speaks of the trinity as a symbol of unity in diversity. It suggests that every person carries the Almighty in their hearts, whichever caste or religion they belong to.” The heart-touching rendition, with its lilting notes, got a great response from the audience.

“I used to play Carnatic music earlier. The last sitar performance I heard was the farewell concert of
Ravi Shankar — so, this is  definitely a nostalgic experience,” says Vibin, a graphic designer and musician, who had come to watch the programme. Rachel G, a homemaker, adds, “It’s an experience to watch a foreigner playing an Indian instrument, in one of our own churches. The music Paul played takes me back to my childhood, when I used to learn the sitar.”

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