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Renowed sitarist comes to Pittsburgh

March 22, 2012
From staff reports , The Herald-Star

PITTSBURGH - Renowned sitarist Anoushka Shankar has demonstrated why she is one of the leading figures in world music, with her classical Indian background in sitar and interest in exploring the fertile ground of other genres, including jazz and western classical music.

She is to perform at 7:30 p.m. April 12 at the Byham Theater. Shankar's current tour, Traveller: A Raga-Flamenco Journey, also will feature Sandra Carrasco, vocals; Sanjeev Shankar, shelhnai; Pirashanna Thevarajah, mridangam, ghatam, kanjira, moorsing; Melen Jimenez, flamenco guitar; and Bernhard Schimpelsberger, cajon and Spanish percussion. This concert is a part of the Cohen & Grigsby Trust Presents Series and is a presentation of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust.

Anoushka Shankar was trained in the art of playing the sitar by her father, the legendary virtuoso sitar player, Ravi Shankar. Anoushka made her performing debut at age 13 with her father in New Delhi, and that same year she began recording a track for her father's album, "In Celebration." In 1998, at the age of 17, she recorded her first solo album "Anoushka," followed by "Anourag" in 2000 and the concert album "Live at Carnegie Hall" in 2001, for which she received her first Grammy nomination, making her the youngest-ever nominee in the world music category.

Article Photos

Anoushka Shankar, daughter of Ravi Shankar and one of the world’s most renowned sitarists, will be appearing at 7:30 p.m. April 12 at the Byham Theater for one show only. -- Contributed

In recognition of her artistry and musicianship, the British Parliament presented Shankar with a House of Commons Shield in 1999. She is the youngest as well as the first female recipient of this high honor. In 2004, she was chosen as one of 20 Asian heroes by the Asian edition of Time magazine.

Though she continues to play Indian classical music on tour with her father, Shankar has begun to compose and arrange her own music, producing her own album "Rise" in 2005.

"It was the first record that I composed and envisioned, so it made sense that it should represent more of the types of music I've listened to in my personal life," she said. "Before, they had always been separate from my role as a classical sitar player. But they didn't have to be so separate."

The album brought Shankar her second Grammy nomination, this time in the best contemporary world music category. Following the "Rise" album she formed the Anoushka Shankar Project in order to pursue her present nonclassical compositions and better explore a fusion of eastern and western music. This expert cultural fusion continued as she collaborated on Karsh Kale's 2007 project "Breathing Under Water," to which she contributed several tracks, including performances with her half sister, Norah Jones, as well as other artists.

In October 2011, Shankar released her sixth album "Traveller," a sitar-flamenco recording that features Shubha Mudgal, Concha Buika, Pepe Habichuela and others. The album, which Anoushka calls a "raga flamenco journey," originated with her wish to retrace the 1,000-year-old bond between Indian and Spanish musical traditions. Her current tour through Europe, India and the U.S. features Anoushka on sitar, accompanied by Indian and flamenco musicians, as well as vocalists and Indian classical dancers who will perform selections from the new album and other music.

Tickets range from $28 to $38 and may be purchased at the box office at Theater Square, 655 Penn Ave.; online at; or by calling (412) 456-6666. To purchase 10 or more tickets at special discounted rates, call (412) 471-6930.

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