Arts & Entertainment

Musicians to share Indian classical music in concert

Indian classical music is a revered art form rooted in antiquity.

Many artists regard music, be it vocal or instrumental, to be their link with God and a way to achieve salvation, or nirvana.

And for centuries, the secrets of Indian classical music have been passed down from one generation to the next within families or a select group of practitioners of various musical traditions, which often are identified by the geographical area where they originally developed.

Each tradition has its own distinct flavor that connoisseurs appreciate.

On Aug. 3, Pandit Shivnath Mishra and his son Deobrat Mishra, seventh-generation musicians of Benares gharana, or lineage, will play the sitar, offering a rare opportunity to experience the vibrancy of Indian ragas, or mood-evoking melodies, that artists improvise upon within a given tonal framework.

The sitar is a stringed instrument that uses sympathetic strings along with regular strings and a gourd-resonating chamber to produce a distinctive sound. The sitar was made famous in the West by Pandit Ravi Shankar and his famous disciple George Harrison of the Beatles in the 1960s.

The Mishras have a great ability to synchronize their music and enthrall the audience, said Ragi Rao, chairman of the program committee of the Hindu Society of Eastern Washington, which is sponsoring the sitar concert. He saw the father and son perform in Spokane about two years ago.

Their music transcends all barriers and is easy to understand and appreciate, he said. "Their musical climax is very interesting," he said.

The Mishras last performed in the Tri-Cities in 2006.

Besides being a performing artist, Pandit Shivnath Mishra also teaches music at Sampurnand Sanskrit University in Varanasi (formerly Benares). Deobrat Mishra, who has a master's degree in sitar from the Prayag Sangit Samiti in Allahabad, India, regularly performs on radio, TV and at concerts around the world with his father.

The Mishras will be accompanied by Marco Zonka on tabla (Indian drums set) and Neeraja Ganeshan of West Richland on tamboura, a stringed instrument that produces a drone effect. Zonka, who lives in the Seattle area, has played the tabla for more than 30 years. He says he lets his fingers do the talking when it comes to introducing tabla to American audiences.

* Pratik Joshi: 582-1541;