It was a day that would count in my life. I was lucky to watch Pandit Ravi Shankar perform into his 10th decade. I had this deep wish for years to see him perform live. I even wanted to approach our national theatre and ask them to organize his program but I didn’t pursue keeping his age in mind. He is 91 now. I must admit that when I booked the tickets couple of weeks ago – I thought he might perform a song and the rest will be done by his team and I also have to admit that I just prayed for a second that he should be in good condition to be able to come :-).
After his accompanists were in place, entered the Maestro – weak and fragile but glowing. The audience 95% Norwegians gave a standing applause welcoming him. He made a very gentle introduction to what is going to unfold, starting with an evening raga and then for more than one and a half hours, he took us all on a musical journey that let ourselves get lost in the intense beauty of the music. He played at length raga Pilu where one could hear something new in each repitition, resplendent with the remarkable display by his artistic nimble fingers, hypnotizing the audience and leaving us completely spellbound.
Ravi Shankar, the man most responsible for what awareness there is in the West of Indian classical music – did not seem fragile anymore, he was all full of energy and indulged in a playful competition with the Tabla players. Later we were treated to an exciting tabla performance by his 3 musicians, first slow, then working up to a fast-paced crescendo with the maestro encouraging them , enjoying their play and helping them blossom.
After leading his musicians and the audience in compelling music that engaged body, mind, and spirit, the concert came to an end and I felt gratified that I got to witness the living legend – Pandit Ravi Shankar. The crowd burst into a 20 minute standing ovation, which he accepted with a humble smile before moving on.
Here is a clip where you can listen to his magic with the Raga's
Here in 2011
pic from rediff.com