Prom 8: Anoushka Shankar and Jules Buckley: New Explorations

“New Explorations”
In the centenary year of her father Ravi Shankar’s birth and with the aim of presenting ‘ragas and the sitar in a new light’, Anoushka Shankar combines recordings of some of his works both with her own sitar improvisations and with live electronics by composer/producer Gold Panda.

Anoushka Shankar in collaboration with Gold Panda, Manu Delado and the Britten Sinfonia conducted by Jules Buckley.


Reviewed by: Elizabeth Jones

Reviewed: 4 September, 2020
Venue: Royal Albert Hall

A lugubrious tuning of a Sitar melts into Josie d’Arblay in a powder-blue power-suit gushing over the evening’s offering. Anoushka’s father Ravi Shankar who died in 2012 had an immense impact on music collaborating with Yehudi Menuhin, Philip Glass and George Harrison. His music was about to reinterpreted and his voice sampled in Anoushka’s collaboration with Gold Panda, an electro-music entrepreneur.

Mauve light bathed the stage as Ravi’s voice opined ragas are precise melody forms to a cascade of sitar scales and electro microtones. The tempo quickened into a feedback loop falling into a synthetic cascade of beauty whilst the sitar wound its formless classical nostalgia for imagined worlds around the infinite empty cavern of the RAH. Oft the synth click of a drumstick was an intrusion upon the overwhelming opulent soar of the sitar.

Manu Delado Austrian composer and Hang player launched the next collaborative venture with his 2015 piece Wandering Around – an eerie Hang percussive melancholic piece with string accompaniment enlarging into a roving cinematic orientalist desert-scape swaying to Bactrian step. The hall turns blue as a discreet Anoushka enters to the sound of violins. Anoushka’s tranquil face is still throughout as the orchestra weaves its sound with hers creating a chromatic soundscape leading us to unimagined promise without ever quite arriving. Manu joins with the subtle beat of drum brushes then a four-beat percussive gallop.

Red lights the stage as Anoushka pauses to tune her sitar. Once tuned Manu drums a soft shoe shuffle to Anoushka’s jaunty strings with her leading the orchestra mimicked by Manu’s slap and tap tabla-style drumming. Anoushka smiles broadly as she plucks the opening notes of her 2015 hit Land of Gold Manu’s gentle drumming follows and not far behind the Britten Sinfonia fuses Western and Indian exquisitely. This spectacularly successful collaboration was the final performance of the evening. 

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