Friday, February 15, 2013

Ravi Shankar Memorial Concert In San Diego

Courtesy: Oviya Design Studio
 La Jolla, CA - Come March and San Diego will be harmonizing to the beat of Indian Classical music as roughly seventy world renowned artists flock here to play, sing and dance to traditional Carnatic and Hindustani music at the six day, 6th Annual Indian Classical Music and Dance Festival hosted by the Indian Fine Arts Academy of San Diego (IFAASD).

The intention of this festival is not only to bring the ancient and resplendent tradition of Carnatic music outside of South India to Southern California “to create an environment of learning” says Shekar Viswanathan, president of IFAASD, but to also celebrate the quaternion artistic legacies of: The late Bharat Ratna Ravi Shankar, the bicentennial anniversary of Kerala’s Maharaja Swati Tirunal, a patron to arts and the Mohiniyattam dance style, the centennial anniversary of Sri K.P. Kittappa Pillai, who contributed to the development of Carnatic music and Bharatnatyam dance, and Sangita Kalanidhi Pinakapani, a medical doctor and vocalist who received one of the highest awards in Carnatic music.

The significance of Shankar’s influence between the Southern Carnatic and Northern Hindustani styles of Indian classical music and its introduction to the West will be omnipresent at the festival. Dubbed as the “global ambassador of India’s cultural heritage” by many, Shankar introduced music from the Carnatic South to Northern India where some of the ragas were popularized. In turn, he also popularized North Indian music in the South and connected Carnatic and Hindustani musicians to the West per Viswanathan.

A few must see events occur during the festival which will be infused with Shankar’s endeared artists and instruments per Viswanathan. On March 22nd Pt. Ajoy Chakrabarty, a Hindustani classical vocalist, has composed a special performance in the late maestro’s honor entitled ‘Ravimalika’ which will consist of many melodies Shankar liked.

On March 23rd, a felicitation ceremony with honorary guests San Diego mayor Bob Filner and Council President Pro Tem Sherri Lightner, will pay respect to Hindustani classical vocalist and sister-in-law to Shankar, Lakshmi Shankar.

Lakshmi Shankar will also be joined on stage with Carnatic veterans such as vocalists Trichur Ramachandran, Gayathri Venkatraghavan and N. Ramani amongst other cherished artists who will sing and imitate many of the late maestro’s compositions.

The homage to Shankar will wind to a spectacular grand finale on March 24th as some of Shankar’s past students engage in a flute and shehnai jugalbandi showcasing a contrast of styles between similar instruments. The Southern style will be distinguished from North Indian music which has blends of Persian and Islamic influence.

The dance portion of the festival will feature three Bharatnatyam performances and one Mohiniyattam performance. An item which is sure leave an inerasable image for dance buffs is the March 20th presentation of Kalidas’ ‘Celebration of Sringara Rasa’ often knows as the queen of all rasas due to the range of complex emotions and expressions dramatized throughout the performance.

The program is choreographed by Radhika Shurajith, famed director of the popular television show, Thaka Dhimi Tha, a classical dance program. On March 24th, Gopika Varma, a leading artist of the Mohiniyattam style will present ‘Dance of the Enchantress’, the mystical ocean churning tale from the ancient Hindu epic Bhagvata Purana.  

A daily platter of performances from famed artists and their accompanists will continue to entertain music enthusiasts. Other festival highlights include a lecture demonstration from legendary Carnatic percussionist, Trichy Sankaran and Trichy Thayumanavan, Carnatic music vocalist duos, the Malladi Brothers and the Trichur Brothers, noted South Indian flutist Mala Chandrasekar and expressions in dance by Leela Samson just to name a few.

For the untrained ear, such Indian classical music may seem daunting, but the festival is not reserved for music aficionados. Although Carnatic music is not limited to spirituality, it is likened to a state of divinity. Rather than wondering about the utility of improvisational exchanges and intricate timing of notes one can simply close one’s eyes and soak in the blends of melodies demonstrated through the magical lilts and drones of vocals, and instruments such as the Flute, Veena, Violin, Mridangam, Khanjira and Tabla which will be showcased at this must see event.

Southern Carnatic music with its emphasis on vocal music primarily sung in Tamil, Telugu and Kannada, is an art form which was once dependent on the patronage of royal houses and is now ablaze in popularity thanks to private institutions and non profits such as IFAASD whose events garner thousands of attendees on a yearly basis.

Event Information:  6th Annual Music and Dance Festival
Date: March 19th – March 24th   2013
Place: David & Dorothea Garfield Theater, 4126 Executive Dr., La Jolla, CA 92037
Time: Varies by day, please see website
Tickets: $25/Day prior to March 01, $30/Day after March 01 and considerations for IFAASD