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Fly Me to Planet Shankara
Ever visited Planet Shankara? You don’t need to journey as far as Mars or Pluto and you don’t need a rocket to get there but you will fly to a place of total musical bliss!
Planet Shankara is coming to you, right to the Lincoln Center Performing Arts Center and you’re in for a mind-blowing musical experience when three mighty talents come together – Anandan Sivamani – the magician of percussion, Anurag Harsh whose powerful voice transforms words into a direct conversation with the Almighty, and Stephen Devassy, India’s No. 1 keyboardist and keytarist who has performed so often with AR Rahman.
A solo performance by even one of them would be heady enough but when all three are unleashed together on the stage, it is a joyous ride for the listeners, a musical monsoon to get thoroughly drenched in.
Classical Indian Music in a New Avatar
This stunning concert is being presented at Lincoln Center by Sunny Thakkar, who had also presented Anurag’s concert at Carnegie Hall earlier this year. I can vouch that it was truly a musical knockout as I had attended that event as a first-timer and became a complete fan. That concert was live streamed and became the first Indian concert to be streamed from Carnegie Hall in its history. A whopping 173,000 people saw it through live streaming in three hours, and a video of this performance became the fastest growing video on YouTube.
Indian Classical Music Jams with a New York audience
With all the new technology, a new generation is listening to this ancient music and falling in love with it. Indeed classical Indian music goes back thousands of years but is always finding new fans as each generation and each culture encounters the sheer beauty and agelessness of this music. It is being mindful of that vast untapped audience that led Anurag Harsh to come up with Planet Shankara.
Indeed, this concert will open up the wonders of Indian classical music to a whole new audience as it engages in a lively dialogue with contemporary music. As Harsh points out, there will be the legendary Sivamani, “He’s going to have more drums than God! I was there when he set up his drum units at Lincoln Center – it took more than four hours to do the set up. He comes with a separate audio engineer and a technician – and there are few establishments in New York City where you can set that up. We are expecting young and old and hopefully the old will feel young and the young will have fun and that’s pretty much what we want.”
The colorful Sivamani himself says, “Every stage is my temple. When I close my eyes I want to go to Africa, to Japan, or to Tamil Nadu or Maharashtra or Punjab.”
Watching these three performers on stage will be a unique experience because each brings formidable talents to the mix. ” As you know classical music is very close to my heart and I want everyone to enjoy it,” says Thakkar, the impresario behind this concert. “We’re doing something different this time with jazz, percussion and classical music. Anurag has an incredible voice, Sivamani is the God of Drums and percussion and Stephen is fantastic – all three together will be something extravagant and lots of fun!”
Classical Indian Music’s Trojan Horse
As Anurag Harsh says, it’s going to be more than a performance – it will be a conversation using music, juxtaposing notes, colors and rhythms to create a bouquet. It will be about being creative, innovative to engage new audiences with classical Indian music. The traditional baithaks are extraordinarily important but often the new generation is not able to connect with or imbibe that presentation. Says Harsh: “It’s like a Trojan horse, it’s a way to attract them and hey, 20 years from now we’ll still be performing and these children will be older kids and we’ll have great big audiences.”
So audiences can look forward to two hours nonstop of jamming presented by Sivamani and his drums, Stephen Devassy on the keyboard and guitar and Anurag Harsh with just his two powerful lungs! It’s a buzzing concert which enfolds young and old, people of all faiths and no faith as the alchemy of the trio creates magic on the stage.
For those who haven’t experienced these musical powerhouses before, here’s a taste of their previous performances: