Indian maestro Ravi Shankar on Europe’s farewell tour

3rd September 2008, Comments 0 comments

Shankar gave his supposedly-last two performances in Paris on Monday and Tuesday.

3 September 2008

PARIS -- Indian sitar maestro Ravi Shankar geared up for his last European performance in France Tuesday, despite saying he hoped it would not be his swansong.

The 88-year-old gave a masterclass at the Salle Pleyel in Paris Tuesday evening, a day after he performed a farewell concert there.

As he entered on stage to a standing ovation Monday night, he said: "My dear friends in Paris. It is supposed to be my last concert here. I hope this is not the case!"

Both performances were delayed by a few months because of Shankar's poor health.

The sitarist, who is credited with promoting Indian music in the West, will head to the United States in October for four more concerts.

Lionised by the former Beatle George Harrison, who called him the godfather of world music, and violinist Yehudi Menuhin, who compared him to Mozart, Shankar gave a virtuoso performance Monday.

The audience, composed of smart 50-somethings and trendy youngsters, listened intently as Shankar performed alongside his daughter Anoushka, a tabla drum player and two lute players.

Despite needing help to get on stage and not being able to sit cross-legged on the rug positioned on the floor, Shankar had lost none of his musical artistry, performing for 90 minutes over three different parts.

He was also up to his old tricks, slipping the French children's song "Au clair de la Lune" into one of his pieces, while throwing proud glances at his 27-year-old daughter, who has accompanied him on stage since 1995.

George Harrison's widow Olivia was in the audience, and made a presentation to Shankar afterwards. So was Nicolas Godin, from the French electric-pop band Air.

Shankar is India's best-known musician and a three-time Grammy award winner. He was born in Varanasi about 670 kilometres southeast of Delhi on 7 April 1920.

He is credited with making Indian music popular in the West, where his eclectic sound is often mixed into pop songs, and he taught the late George Harrison to play the sitar in the 1960s.

His second daughter is the eight-time Grammy award winner, Norah Jones, who rose to fame in 2002 with her debut album "Come Away With Me".

[AFP / Expatica]

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