The versatile virtuoso, Anoushka Shankar recently performed the Sitar concerto No. 2 at Lyon’s Auditorium, accompanied by the Orchestre National de Lyon.
Composed by her late father Ravi Shankar, the legendary Sitar-player, it unites classical Indian tradition and music from the West.
“Getting to play my father’s music is a very beautiful experience,” says Shankar.
“I get to almost dive into my father’s heart and mind a little bit more again when I play this music. And so something about that feels very alive and very much about relationship whilst also being really, really beautiful music.”
The concerto, “Raga-Mala” or “Garland of Ragas,” premiered in 1981.
Ragas are traditional Indian melodic patterns that provide the basis of instrumental compositions or improvisations.
“The Ragas have characters, they have feelings, they have associations. And so all of these ragas have a lot of nuance,” explains Shankar.
“There are times of day, even season’s things like that can be associated with different ragas according to their vibrations and feelings.”
“The fourth movement incorporates a bit more of the folk music of India that my father loved very much.”
“So you’re hearing, for example, refrains that evoke Kashmir or Rajasthan, like all different folk music from all over India. And then at the same time, you’re having a lot of improvisation for the Sitar as well.”
“That’s my main beautiful baby,” says Shankar, pointing out her new, custom made Sitar.
“It’s made a little bit smaller on the base then a lot of other sitars is just because of my body size. We sit on the floor and I find like a lot of the bass parts are quite big.”
“So I asked for it to be my size. But what happened does it as as a beautiful accident of making it a little bit smaller is actually this very light, bright, beautiful, sweet tone that I love.
Anoushka Shankar, who is also a composer and producer, says she has finally found her own unique path.
“I didn’t just learn from my father, I toured with him, I played with him.”
“So when I started writing myself, it was like a very conscious decision to kind of to want to find out who I was when I wrote music.”
“I guess I was a real perfectionist because of his training and the standard of his playing. It can really stop you from trying and taking risks. So that was something that I really had to keep working to overcome.”
“I think the beautiful thing about inspiration is that when we show up things come so I’ll sit to play and I trust that something will come out.”
Drone images kindly provided by SPL Lyon Part-Dieu – Studio Fly
Anoushka Shankar’s new album “Love Letters” is out now, including the songs: