92-Year-Old Sitar Maestro and daughter play to packed Terrace Theater on November 4, 2012
It was a warm early November evening as a capacity crowd filed into The Long Beach Convention and Entertainment Center Terrace Theater to see Pandit (Sanskrit for "Scholar/Teacher") Ravi Shankar and his daughter Anoushka in a rescheduled performance from last March. The first hour and fifteen minutes featured talented 31-year-old Anoushka, a UK resident who arrived two days prior to performance night to play live with her father.
After a short intermission, Ravi Shankar is slowly wheeled out by Anoushka along with aid from one of his young students, as the crowd rises to its feet in applause of admiration. A huge "OM" symbol is projected in pure white light directly above Shankar's head. He is tiny and frail, and moves quite slowly, yet commands the microphone once he is finally seated center stage. "Let us remember those in the East who suffered from the storm," he says in a gentle voice before playing two beautiful late afternoon Ragas, followed by a longer free-form Raga. "You saw the runners in the Olympics a few months ago? Well, I will try to keep up like them!" he assures his audience: and he does!
Prior to the final Raga, Shankar introduces his band, beginning with Anoushka, "You already know her - she is proud to be my daughter!" he says with a smile. Shankar's band currently also features tabla player Tanmoy Bose, flutist Ravichandra Kulur, and Mridanga player BC Manjunath. One of the highest energy points of the evening's final Raga was Bose's one-plus minute long tabla solo: played with his fingers - not on his drum, but on the cheeks of his own face! This amazing live performance is just the beginning of Shankar's recent musical output. Last year, East Meets West Music released The Living Room Sessions Part I (The Living Room Sessions Part II will be released at the end of this year), and this year, a documentary entitled Ravi Shankar | Tenth Decade In Concert: Live In Escondido by filmmaker Alan Kozlowski. Here's to Maestro Ravi Shankar's more than half a century in music - he is indeed living up to the motto of his foundation: "Sound Is God."
For more information, visit The Ravi Shankar Foundation.