Tabla & Sitar

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Early Wednesday morning the sounds of tabla and sitar came through the office speakers. Shalimar the Clown, Jack Perla’s adaptation of Salman Rushdie’s novel, is receiving its world premiere at Opera Theatre of Saint Louis this month. So with India as the setting for Rushdie’s story, the Red split (see previous blog post “Red & Green”) is joined by tabla player Javad and sitarist Arjun.

Javad and Arjun on the Powell Hall stage
Javad and Arjun on the Powell Hall stage

I think I can accurately report that the last time the St. Louis Symphony had tabla on stage was for George Benjamin’s Sudden Time, which also traveled to Carnegie in March 2007.

My guess for sitar: when Ravi Shankar played Powell. I didn’t know for certain that he did, but figured there was no way the most renowned sitar player of modern times would not have played here. Sure enough, November 1, 1970, for an event titled the “Sunday Festival of Music.” Leonard Slatkin conducted the orchestra in the first half of the program, which included Vivaldi’s “Winter” from The Four Seasons and Rimsky-Korsakov’s “The Tale of the Prince Kalendar” from Scheherazade. After intermission Shankar played a group of ragas with Alla Rakha on tabla and Kamala Chakravarty on tamboura.

A program page promoting Ravi Shankar at Powell Hall in 1970.
A program page promoting Ravi Shankar at Powell Hall in 1970.