CULTURE

Legendary musician to join forces with gifted daughter for Athens fund-raiser

India’s greatest musical ambassador Ravi Shankar, whose rare genius has opened the ears and minds of millions to his homeland’s ancient musical tradition, will play a fund-raising concert in Athens next week in support of programs for underdeveloped lands. Proceeds from the event, jointly organized by the Attica Cultural Society and Action Aid Hellas, a local representative of the UK’s largest development agency, will benefit the latter’s efforts. Action Aid coordinates the efforts of people fighting for a world without poverty in more than 30 countries in Africa, Asia, South America, and the Caribbean. Their mission is to work in partnership with poor and marginalized people to eradicate poverty by overcoming the injustice and inequity that lie at the problem’s roots. Shankar will perform alongside his daughter Anoushka Shankar, a fellow sitar player who has impressed with her own artistic ability in recent years. The father-daughter duo will be backed by a quartet of percussionists on tablas and tanpura. The «godfather of world music,» as the late ex-Beatle George Harrison once described the veteran Indian musician, Ravi Shankar has undeniably done more for his homeland’s music than any other musician. As a performer, composer, teacher and writer, Shankar has proven to be a pioneering presence whose broad-minded initiatives eventually took India’s music to the West. He has composed extensively for film and ballet at home, as well as in Europe, the USA and Canada. Shankar is an honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and also a member of the United Nations International Rostrum of composers. In 1986, Shankar was nominated as a member of India’s Upper House of Parliament, the Rajya Sabha. During the revolutionary 1960s, Ravi Shankar performed three memorable concerts: at the Monterey Pop Festival, the Concert for Bangladesh, and Woodstock. Never complacent with traditional ways alone, Shankar’s initiatives have included writing concertos for sitar and orchestra, violin-sitar compositions for Yehudi Menuhin and himself, and collaborations with Philip Glass. His co-star for the Athens performance, Anoushka Shankar, now 21, has received exclusive training from her legendary father – which, incidentally, makes her the world’s only artist to have been trained solely by Ravi Shankar. Anoushka Shankar made her stage debut in New Delhi at the age of 13, and during the same period also recorded for the first time, on her father’s «In Celebration» album, before beginning to perform alongside him at concerts throughout the world. The young artist, who appears poised to carry her father’s legacy, released her first solo recording, «Anoushka,» in 1998, after signing a deal with the Angel/EMI Classics label. The debut effort, which was released to tremendous critical acclaim, was followed by a second album, «Anourag,» two years later. Late in 2001, she released a live recording, «Live at Carnegie Hall,» which received a Grammy Award nomination for Best World Music Album. She was passed over for that award, but performed on her father’s Grammy Award-winning album, «Full Circle: Live at Carnegie Hall.» The youngster has interpreted some of her father’s more ambitious compositions, such as «Concerto No. 1 for Sitar and Orchestra,» which Anoushka Shankar first performed with the London Philharmonic Orchestra in 1997. Two years later, she premiered a new work for sitar and cello, written by her father, with the cellist Mstislav Rostropovich at a French festival. Last year, the legendary producers Quincy Jones and Phil Ramone invited Anoushka Shankar to perform at the World Economic Forum as part of a cast that also featured pop icons such as Bono of U2, Peter Gabriel and Lauryn Hill. For the occasion, she premiered a new piece composed by her father, «Mood Circle.» Last November, Anoushka Shankar conducted a new composition of her father’s at the highly anticipated «Concert for George,» in honor of the late Harrison at London’s Royal Albert Hall. The work featured a guitar solo by Eric Clapton and performances by 43 musicians playing Indian and Western instruments. Also in the past year, Anoushka Shankar has released a pictorial biography, which serves as a rich tribute to her father’s remarkable life through text and rare private photos. Just two months ago, the eager young artist branched out into acting. She accepted a part in the film «Dance Like a Man,» based on a play of the same name by Mahesh Dattani, in which which she plays a young Bharatantyam dancer. Commenting on the main acts playing at next week’s fund-raiser in Athens, George Harrison, toward the end of his life, had noted: «Most people are musicians simply because they play a certain instrument; when they play that instrument, the music appears. 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 has that quality… She is the music.» May 12, at the Sfendona Club, 22 Alexandras Ave, Athens. For ticket reservations call Select Tours at 210.322.7545 or 210.322.7467. For other information: Action Aid, 210.724.8789; Attica Cultural Society, 210.645.7406 and 6944.267.615.