Anoushka’s Flamenco fusion; SiTAR’s best!
With the Rialto’s Director Leslie Gordon extending a warm welcome to all the patrons and thanking the devout sponsors for their continued support, promptly followed by a special greeting presented by the Southeastern USA’s newly minted Consul General Ajit Kumar of India’s Republic, the anticipated “shock and awe” concert by global performer Anoushka Shankar was set for a grand success. The stage looked magnificent with its dark back curtains drawn, a lotus emblem shining on it at the center and mini reflecting amber light sticks spread in the back with a small riser in the center for Sitar Diva Anoushka to stride on. The Sitar virtuoso is not only an accomplished music composer, film actress, published author and a philanthropic leader, but is also the daughter of legendry maestro Shri Ravi Shankar and half-sister to GRAMMY winner Norah Jones. Anoushka opened the recital with classical Indian Raag Bhairavi with accompaniment from classical Indian percussionist Pirashanna Thevarajah on Mridangam, Ghatam, Kanjira and Moorsing, Sanjeev Shankar on Shehnai and Bernhard Schimpelsberger on Cajon & other Spanish Percussion. After letting the audience get their Indian classical taste buds salivated, she resumed with a fusion piece with additional accompaniment from Melon Jimenez on Flamenco Guitar and Sandra Carrasco’s vocals. The exquisite range and tenor in Sandra’s voice was simply outstanding. Drawing every inch of passion from her gut, she delivered in Spanish, lyrics for the nameless love-song music composed by Anoushka. Melon rhythmically plucked on the acoustic Spanish guitar equally supported by feverish patterns on the splendid sounding Cajon by Bernhard as well as the distinctively sharp and variable-toned bare-hand claps by Sandra, a Spanish tradition. This was followed by a good fusion adaptation of south India’s Raag Kirwani, which is aptly suited for instrumental music and is played in the scale same as the harmonic minor in western music. After a brief intermission Anoushka presented a piece in Raag Manj Khamaj which was delicately interwoven. First the whole orchestra played it as fusion, transgressing to a pure play of the Raag in classical Hindustani style, followed by the pure Flamenco representation of the same and finally closing the piece by all playing together. The instrumentation clearly showed the similarity of its presentation in both: Flamenco and Hindustani styles. Anoushka ended the recital with Raag Jog which allowed solos by each accompanist to the thundering applause of the audience. Forced by a standing ovation from the happy audience, Anoushka gave-in by performing one more piece, before calling it curtains. Simple as she is, she obliged her fans who were queued up in the lobby waiting for her autograph on Anoushka memorabilia including her CD’s, mini flier’s et al. All in all, it was a fantastic night at the Rialto, a true international culture center in Atlanta!
By Viren Mayani