And so it finally came the long-awaited night to see (finally!) the amazing and widely praised Sitar player, Anoushka Shankar, daughter of legendary Sitar virtuoso Ravi Shankar. The now-late virtuoso, who passed away on 11 of December 2012, surely left a lasting mark in the realms of world music and in this now hyper-popular east-meets-west musical fusions, long before they became as common as nowadays. Yet, his legacy and brilliance remain alive in his very own daughter who certainly carries on with the mastery of Sitar playing, in levels of greatness hard to explain.
The concert took place on the Royal Festival Hall, the biggest venue within the compound of the Southbank Centre, who can hold an audience of 2,500 people and surely it did on the evening of Friday 23rd of May, to a seemingly sold-out night. The demographics of the attendees were dominantly of Indian and South Asian background, however still faces from multiple ethnicities were seen all across the hall.
The event was also arguably the biggest highlight of the Alchemy Festival hosted at these premises, where multiple events celebrating the legacy of South-Asian culture are being widely displayed and celebrated.
The concert started just a few minutes after 7:30pm, after a brief introduction by Jude Kelly, director of the Southbank Center, and loud applause welcomed Anoushka and her talented musicians on the stage. Anouhska’s soft voice kindly appreciated the applause and the visitors for joining the night. Opening with a Raga from one of her earliest albums “Rise”, most of the remaining pieces belonged to her latest delivery, “Traces of you”, with songs like ‘Metamorphosis’, ‘Traces of You’, ‘In Jyoti’s Name’, and ‘The Sun Won’t Set’ originally recorded for the album with her sister Norah Jones, as a tribute to their late father Ravi Shankar however sung on the occasion by singer/cellist Ayanna Witter-Johnson.
Anoushka Shankar & Norah Jones, “The Sun Won’t Set”.
The concert pretty much had a continuous format, only with brief intervention from Ms. Shankar to offer a brief commentary about some pieces, and also announcing the fact that her husband and fellow musician and friend Nitin Sawhney was attending the evening.
Her talented musicians also shined throughout the concert, and especially at the next-to-last piece called “Chasing Shadows”, in which each one, Ayanna Witter-Johnson on voices and cello, Danny Keane’s as main Cello, Manu Delago in drums and hang, Pirashanna Threvarajah in Carnatic percussion and Sanjeev Shankar in shenhai, all performed a solo, displaying their own exceptional talent. A night full of passion and lively melodies, rooted in traditional Indian music, yet keeping a contemporary touch that maintains its accessibility to a wider audience.
The end of the concert was filled with passionate applause and praise, and the encore for the concert was the piece “Monsoon”, a Indian musical piece about love introduced by Anoushka, as being written by her while falling in love with her husband (the film director Joe Wright), which brought further applause to bring to an end what certainly was a memorable evening. Papa Shankar would certainly be proud.