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Anoushka Shankar Plays ‘Reflections’

Sitarist Offers Sweet, Heady Evening

Photo: Courtesy Anoushka Shankar

Sitarist Anoushka Shankar’s Campbell Hall concert last week may have officially marked her third area appearance under her name, but that doesn’t count her sparkling debut as a teenaged accompanist to her late, great father/mentor Ravi Shankar at the Arlington Theatre. Precocity has become her: Though only 37, her musical life in public and in the spotlight goes back to her mid-teens. That allows for the startling math of a new 20-year retrospective album Reflections, from which much of the concert’s set list was drawn.

Whereas her father’s career focused largely on classical Hindustani tradition, with some side trips into East-meets-West music (including work with George Harrison), Shankar has freely and unabashedly wandered into the crossover landscape. Fittingly, her band has blended strong North and South Indian instrumentalists — Ojas Adhiya on tabla, Pirashanna Thevarajah on mridangam and other South Indian percussion — with a Westerner, Danny Keane on cello and piano. 

Echoes of Ravi continue on six years after his death. Opening with “Voice of the Moon,” based on a South Indian raga, Shankar moved to a piece she wrote based on a raga by her father. From her 2013 album, Trace of You, she called on “Fathers” and the Indo-pop tune “The Sun Won’t Set,” on which her half-sister Norah Jones made a cameo; flutist Ravichandra Kulur provided her part live. The final segment showcased Shankar’s music for the 1927 silent film Shiraz: A Romance of India, with suitably wandering, cinematic atmospheres and an up-tempo 5/8 melody line to finish off the evening in a sweet, heady rush.

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