Sitarist Sharmistha Sen plays Raga Madhuvanti. Private recording (taken from my Braaksma Collection) of a house concert in Haarlem/The Netherlands, May 11th, 1974. The photo of Sharmishta Sen was taken during this concert. On tabla: Ananda Gopal Bandopadhyay.
Eén van de grootste Indiase musici aller tijden is zonder twijfel sitarspeler Ravi Shankar (1920-2012). In 2002 besteedde de Concertzender in een door mij samengestelde aflevering van het programma Metamorfosen aandacht aan de beroemde sitarspeler die dankzij de Beatles in de jaren zestig een supersterstatus verwierf. Ravi Shankar heeft een enorm belangrijke rol gespeeld als ambassadeur van de Indiase muziek. De titel van de uitgezonden special – ‘Echo’s van Ravi Shankar en de sitar-explosie in het Westen’ – is niet overdreven. De optredens van Ravi Shankar veroorzaakten destijds een ware sitar-rage en brachten de westerse belangstelling voor Indiase ragamuziek in een stroomversnelling. In deze uitzending zijn onder andere unieke, door Radio Nederland Wereldomroep gemaakte opnamen van Ravi Shankar te horen uit 1957. Dankzij nauwgezette research werden deze oudste Nederlandse omroepopnamen van Ravi Shankar in januari 2002 ontdekt door Pieter de Rooij, die destijds werkzaam was bij de Wereldomroep als audio-archivaris. Voor meer informatie over de vondst van de Ravi Shankar-opnamen in het Wereldomroep-archief kun je dit artikel en deze video raadplegen.
Britain’s eminent raga musician Roopa Panesar is one of my favourite sitar players. Her superb rendition here of a famous Dhun in raag Bhairavi – marvellously accompanied by Bhupinder Chaggar on tabla – is a complete delight for the listener.
Deep musical knowledge, a great feel for beauty, virtuosity and an enormous amount of passion and joy comes across in her style of playing.
Playing around India – A portrait of Dutch cellist Saskia Rao-de Haas, is a radio documentary I produced in 2002. [original Dutch title: Op streek in India – een portret van de Nederlandse celliste Saskia Rao-de Haas]
The documentary is mostly in dutch, but this video offers a transcript in english locked to the timetable, in order to make this production accessible for an international audience. To allow convenient reading of this transcript, you should play the video in HD (1080p).
Production date: May-June 2002. First broadcast by Concertzender on 8 November 2002, also broadcast by Radio Netherlands on 25 and 29 December 2002. Voice narrator: Wim Vriezen.
In the documentary ‘Playing around India’ (produced May-June 2002) programme maker Pieter de Rooij introduces the career of the brilliant 31-year-old (that is, in 2002) cellist Saskia Rao-de Haas. She is one of the very few people, and the only European, to play the classical ragas of North India on the cello. She is considered the only genuine cello soloist by the Indian concert going public. Her virtuosity and deep musicality have introduced a new resonance to Indian music and have been enthusiastically receieved by critics and audiences worldwide. To achieve a proper Indian sound Saskia Rao-de Haas plays on a specially modified cello: smaller (so as to be able to be played sitting on the floor), with five instead of the usual four strings, and with ten ‘sympathetic’ strings. These freely resonating strings give a beautiful Indian sound to the cello and the instrument has quickly become very popular.
For two years (speaking from 2002) Saskia Rao-de Haas has lived in New Delhi with her husband, the famous Indian sitar player Shubhendra Rao. As well as traditional raga improvisations, she and her husband play their own compositions in which they mix classical Indian music with elements from European folkmusic and Western classical music.
In May and June 2002 Saskia and Shubhendra toured outside India when, for the first time, Western audiences were able to hear the combination of sitar and cello in Indian classical music. Programme maker Pieter de Rooij caught up with the couple in Amsterdam where they gave a concert at the KIT Tropen Theatre on 25 May. Saskia talks about her music, her cello and her life in India. Her husband Shubhendra, the violin maker Eduard van Tongeren and her former teacher at the Rotterdam Conservatory, Joep Bor, all have something to say about Saskia’s amazing cello adventure. Recordings from the Amsterdam concert are heard during the documentary.
Despite the fact that flamenco, the fiery song and dance genre from Andalusia/Spain, is a well known genre all over the world, it’s still not common knowledge that the genre’s ancient roots lie in gypsy music from Rajashtan/India. A great and awarded album exploring this India-flamenco connection is Traveller by renowned sitar player Anoushka Shankar. On this album – I quote from her website – “she finds her way into the nuances of modern flamenco through the vivid lens of Hindustani technique. In essence, Traveller charts the spiritual link across time and space of two highly evolved forms of musical expression, from their ancient gestation to their modern zenith.” On her homepage Anoushka Shankar adds: “I’ve always loved flamenco and had a fascination for it. There’s always been that pull towards something I find very similar in flamenco to what I cherish in Indian classical music: a kind of uninhibited musicality in expression, whether it’s a solo voice, a sitar or a guitar. Of course there were common roots and technical similarities to explore, and when you start to play with those, you can really delve down in very delicious ways. However the desire came from simply being an admirer of the music, and wanting to learn about it through making music.”
The album release in 2011 was followed by a world tour, and from this tour the inspiring and well recorded concert below is a joy for watching and listening. So, without further ado, enjoy the great musicianship and temperament of Anoushka Shankar and her fellow travellers on stage!
Anoushka Shankar’s Traveller concert at Festival Les Nuits de Fourviere (Lyon/France), July 13th, 2012
Oceanic – Part 1, a beautiful, atmospheric track of Anoushka playing a sitar-duet with her father. Really touching. When I publish this message, it’s 7 April 2011, Ravi Shankar’s 91st birthday. Happy Birthday, Pandit ! 🙂
The exceptional/fabulous & one and only Nikhil Banerjee lived up to his own words: “My approach to music is very deep. I do not believe in compromise. My music is based on spiritualism and was practiced to know the Supreme Truth. A musician must lift up the soul of the listeners.” The footage of Nikhil Banerjee’s playing in the video above – taken from a wonderful documentary by Steven Baigel – wonderfully illustrates his statement. It’s priceless stuff that lifts up my soul ! 🙂