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Southbank Centre celebrates Ravi Shankar’s Centenary


By Mary Rahman:


One of the most highly anticipated delayed events due to Covid was Shankar 100- the celebration of 100 years since Ravi Shankar’s birth. The hottest ticket in town in the Indian Classical Music calendar takes place on the 5th March from 7.30pm at the Southbank Centre. Anoushkar Shankar, his daughter, protege and sitar musician in her own right leads the event with family, friends and musicians including special guest Nitin Sawhney. The evening will see a retrospective of Shankar’s multi-genre work from Indian Classical Music to his collaborations with the West and songs from film scores.

Ravi Shankar was a musical genius, guru, composer, performer, educator, innovator and inspiration to many across the world. The master of the Sitar and Godfather of Indian Classical music, he met George Harrison of the Beatles in 1966 with the two going on to become a huge musical influence on one another. Indeed, Shankar went on to introduce Indian classical music to the West. The relationship to Bangladesh goes back to 1967 when Harrison was instrumental in getting Shankar booked at the legendary Monterey Pop Festival in 1967. They partnered in organising the Concert for Bangladesh- a pair

of benefit concerts held at Madison Square Garden in New York City, to raise international awareness of, and fund relief for refugees from East Pakistan, following the Bangladesh Liberation War- related genocide. The concerts were attended by a total of 40,000 people, and the initial gate receipts raised close to $250,000 for Bangladesh relief, which was administered by UNICEF. Indeed, the Concert for Bangladesh is recognised as a highly successful and influential humanitarian aid project, generating both awareness and considerable funds as well as providing valuable lessons and inspiration for projects that followed- Sir Bob Geldof said it was the inspiration behind “Live Aid”. By 1985, through revenue raised from the Concert for Bangladesh live album and film, an estimated $12 million had been sent to Bangladesh. Decades later, Shankar said of the overwhelming success of the event: “In one day, the whole world knew the name of Bangladesh. It was a fantastic occasion.”

An archive exhibition will take place from March to May 2022 with items from the Shankar family collection. Shankar’s biographer Oliver Craske ( Indian Sun: The Life and Music of Ravi Shankar) showcases rare archive pieces to highlight key moments from Shankar’s childhood touring Europe with his brother’s dance troupe to his United Nations collaboration with Yehudi Menuhin, and his final work, the opera Sukanya, composed in honour of his wife.

More info here on Shankar 100 here: https://www.southbankcentre.co.uk/whats-on/art-exhibitions/indian-sun-highlights-ravi-shankar-archive?eventId=896509