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Anoushka Shankar Plays ‘Reflections’

Sitarist Offers Sweet, Heady Evening

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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