Performing 6 shows in India after a gap of 3 years this December that also overlaps with the 10th death anniversary of her father- late Indian Sitar maestro Ravi Shankar, Anoushka Shankar is looking forward to performing in her home country after the pandemic.
The 41-year-old Grammy-nominated composer and sitarist’s tour will kick start at Good Shepherd Auditorium in Bengaluru on December 11, followed by a concert at Shanmukhananda Auditorium in Mumbai on December 16. It will conclude in Delhi on December 18 with a performance at SiriFort Auditorium and in this conversation, she talks about her plans for the tour, her new album ‘Between Us’ and her father.
Excerpts from the interview
Q. Your return to India is highly anticipated this December. Would you like to talk about the purpose and prep behind it?
Anoushka: Well of course the purpose of my visit is to perform and also to return for personal reasons. I'm deeply excited about returning after this long pandemic-related gap and also I'll be bringing my children back after many years so I'm extremely excited about that too. I love performing in India. It's always obviously a favourite experience for me, playing this music at home, playing my music at home so I'm really excited about bringing some new music back to India.
Q. Performing 6 shows in India after a gap of 3 years this December, during the 10th anniversary of your father- it must be an emotional trip in many ways?
Anoushka: Well I'm already imagining it's going to be a wonderfully emotional trip in many ways, returning after a long time and yes as you say, there's an overlap of the 10th anniversary of my father's passing and also the 10th anniversary of Jyoti Singh Pandey's attack which I'll be releasing a piece of music around that week as well so it is very strange that we are back across that week of two things that affected me very deeply, my father's passing and her attack but also you know this is the present day and a new time and it's mainly a very positive experience for me to be returning and be uniting with many loved ones and getting to perform.
Q. ‘Between Us...’ is getting such a phenomenal response overall and performing in India would be a different feeling altogether considering it's your home country. Would you like to talk about your expectations with the tour?
Anoushka: So I'm not actually performing ''Between Us" on this tour because that is an orchestral show that I'm touring right now and I really would love to bring it to India one day. It's a show I'm very proud of and to this date, you know it's Been what 30 years I've been performing and I haven't yet managed to play any of my orchestral shows in India so that's something for the sponsor to hear me say maybe and try and bring me with the orchestra. I would love to do that one day. What I'm doing here is actually a very different show. I'll be performing the show in two parts of new music; one is a duo with the incredible electronic musician "Go Panda" which is a piece that is actually responding to my father's work and music and we were in this together a few years ago and it's a very different and special way that I get to interact with my father with a music and that I think people would really enjoy and in the second part, I'm playing with some incredible musicians; Arun Ghosh, Sarathy korwar, Tom Farmer, Pirashanna Thevarajah and playing my music for my cross albums but in new arrangements and with lots of new and exciting solos and really highlighting and showcasing these incredible musicians as well.
Q. What was the idea behind 'Between Us' ? Would you like to talk about the planning to conception and finally execution phase?
Anoushka: "Between us" is a collection of orchestral arrangements of my music that include a couple of unreleased pieces and new versions of previous pieces. I have loved playing this live show for several years and I really wanted to share it with people. In the pandemic, I was feeling that cut off from performing live and I was looking through some of my live recordings and the idea kind of came up from there that I had this beautiful recording of our live shows that we had played at Netherlands in 2018 and thought it would be lovely to get to share with people in the absence of sharing real shows with people and actually I'm so happy and proud that happened because it was a great concept and it was recorded really well and it was just sitting on my computer so it's so fantastic to really get to share it with people.
Q. The LP features your regular collaborator and Hang (handpan) maestro Manu Delago alongside Holland’s Metropole Orkest directed by conductor and arranger Jules Buckley. Would you like to talk about this association?
Anoushka: Yes, Manu Delago is one of the most special collaborators in my career. We first started working together way back in 2011,I think our first piece together was "Lasya" which ended up going on my "Traces of you" album along with another song we co-wrote called "Maya". He then came on board as a drummer and percussionist in my "traces of you" tour and so we toured together over two years around the world and so that collaboration got even closer where we were playing together again and again so when I came off tour and it was time to write any album, he was kind of one of the first people that came to mind.
I was loving playing with him and his instruments so much and I think there's something very special about the tonality of the hung with the sitars, something really beautiful and magical happens and so we wrote "Land of Gold" together so you know at the end of many years we basically have a songbook of co-written music that features our instruments and so when it came time to write an orchestral performance, I thought it would be really nice to showcase that collaboration within the centre of these orchestral pieces. So he's really at the centre of this album with me and Jules Buckley, of course, Jules is the conductor and arranger and he's a genius I think at making orchestral music really really modern and accessible but also just so high quality and evolved and intelligent so I was thrilled and honoured that he came on board to do the arrangements with me.
Q. How would you describe your musical evolution with the release of the new LP?
Anoushka: I mean I'd like to think I'm evolving day by day hopefully whichever project I do and take upon and there's obviously so much to do.