Sitar player Anoushka Shankar to perform at Prague Spring Music Festival


The internationally acclaimed sitar player Anoushka Shankar, the daughter of the legendary Indian sitar player and composer Ravi Shankar, is one of the musicians performing at this year's 60th Prague Spring Music Festival. On Thursday, Anoushka will play her father's Concerto for Sitar and Orchestra No. 1, alongside the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra.

On the day of her first rehearsal with the orchestra, Anoushka told Radio Prague what it was like playing with musicians with a totally different musical heritage.

"Well, most orchestras do because we don't really have a culture of orchestras in India so whenever I play with them it is this situation - which for me is very exciting because it's very different from what I do normally. However, this piece has been written with them in mind - it's written in Western notation and it's just a question of everyone playing together a couple of times and getting used to the things that are different, like in my case, I'm not used to having a conductor, so it's a training for me as well every time."

The piece Anoushka is going to perform in Prague was written by her father Ravi Shankar, ten years after he himself performed at the Prague Spring Music Festival in 1960.

"It's a very beautiful piece, it's my father's first concerto for sitar and orchestra - he has two. And this first one is on some levels very simple and on other levels very complex, so it's quite interesting. There is much less harmony than many people would be used to, of course, but then the rhythmic complexities and the fact that the orchestra's pieces have been written based on ragas, so the melody development is very intricate and is very, very interesting. And, of course, the sitar, hopefully will be interesting to people as well."

Thursday's concert will be conducted by a 24-year old Czech conductor Jakub Hrusa, only a year older than Anoushka.

"Firstly, she is a wonderful person and her opinions on music are wonderful, she is very educated. And so these were the reasons why the rehearsal went absolutely fine. For the orchestra it is not something common but I hope and believe that they will love it as much as I do."

Anoushka is spending a few days in Prague between her tour of America and Europe and she says she hopes that she'll have an opportunity to get to hear some Czech classical music as she has not had many chances before.

"Sadly no, I've not had much experience except in situations where people have mixed certain flavours, Bohemian flavours and ideas, which I've always found very beautiful, very mysterious and very lovely. My father always told me about how beautiful the music is here. He remembers very well from when he was younger and first came here. And I hope to hear some while I'm here."