Multi-Grammy nominated sitar master and composer, Anoushka Shankar returns to the National Concert Hall on Saturday 6th April following her near sold-out performance in 2016 to perform the live score to the film Shiraz: A Romance of India, a score she was commissioned to write.
Deeply rooted in the Indian Classical music tradition, Anoushka studied exclusively under her father and guru, the late Ravi Shankar - who collaborated closely with The Beatles guitarist George Harrison. By the age of 20, she had made three classical recordings and received her first Grammy nomination, thereby becoming the first Indian female and youngest-ever nominee in the World Music category and a pivotal figure in the popularisation of the sitar.
The epic silent film of 1928, Shiraz: A Romance of India,
is one of the few surviving Indian silent films telling the fictionalised backstory behind India’s most iconic buildings, the Taj Mahal; a story of love and devotion. The newly restored film formed the centrepiece of the British Film’s Institute’s India on Film programme marking the 70th anniversary of Indian Independence, and the world premiere of Shankar’s score in 2017.The soundtrack is a mixture of Indian and Western instruments and features Anoushka Shankar, sitar; Danny Keane, cello; Pirashanna Thevarajah, mridangam; Preetha Narayanan, violin/viola; Idris Rahman, clarinet; Sanju Sahai, table; Chris Kemlsey, keyboards/piano/electronics; and Ravichandra Kulur, flute.
The story of the film is that of love and undying devotion, following Shiraz, the designer of the Taj Mahal, and his childhood sweetheart, the princess who became the Empress Mumtaz Mahal – to whom the mausoleum was dedicated. It’s a film as remarkable and ornate as the structure itself – and Shankar’s score promises to be just as impressive, as she echoes the magnificence of the Taj Mahal with stunning virtuosity.
The screening and performance is part of the National Concert Hall’s Perspectives Series supported by The Irish Times. Full details of all concerts in the series can be found here, along with tickets for the performance which begin at €35.
Anoushka continues to open up new possibilities for this instrument and has collaborated with a diverse range of musicians. Her artistic output increasingly seeks to reflect her impassioned support of women's rights and social justice. Her most recently released album, Land of Gold, was written in response to the humanitarian crisis of displaced people.
Watch the trailer for BFI National Archive's restoration of Shiraz: A Romance of India, with score by Anoushka Shankar below: