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World-renowned Indian musicians to perform at Loyola

March 27, 2009

IMAGE: Zakir Hussain (lt) and Pandit Shivkumar Sharma (rt)

It’s not often that most people have the opportunity to hear a santur or tabla played, but it’s even more of a rarity to hear them played by a pair of the most respected Indian musicians in the world. This Thursday at Loyola University New Orleans, Grammy Award-winning Zakir Hussain and world-renowned musician Pandit Shivkumar Sharma will perform “Maestros in Concert,” revealing the enchanting sounds of Indian music while they showcase their virtuosity with these instruments.

The performance, sponsored by the Indian Arts Circle of New Orleans and Loyola’s Montage Series, takes place Thursday, April 2, at 7 p.m. in Roussel Hall in the Communications/Music Complex on Loyola’s main campus. Tickets are $25 for general admission and $15 for all students and Loyola faculty and staff. To purchase tickets, call 504-606-5938.

Hussain is celebrated in the music world as an international phenomenon in the field of percussion. He is a master of the tabla, a popular Indian percussion instrument made of hardwood, natural hide and silver. His consistently brilliant and exciting performances have established him as a national treasure in his home country of India and earned him worldwide fame.

Widely considered a chief architect of the contemporary world music movement, Hussain has played in several international music groups including Shakti, which he founded with John McLaughlin and L. Shankar in the early 1970s, the Diga Rhythm Band, Making Music and Planet Drum with Mickey Hart. He has also performed and recorded with artists as diverse as George Harrison, Joe Henderson, Van Morrison, Airto Moreira, Giovanni Hidalgo, Pharoah Sanders, Billy Cobham, Rennie Harris and the Kodo drummers of Japan.

Hussain was most recently recognized with a Grammy Award for his collaboration in the “Global Drum Project” with Mickey Hart, Sikiru Adepoju and Giovanni Hidalgo.

As an artist, Sharma has enraptured audiences for more than 50 years with his mastery of the santur, a hammered dulcimer known in India as the Shata Tantri Veena, or hundred-stringed lute.

Sharma, one of India’s most popular and revered classical musicians, is the country’s greatest living master of the santur, famous for its lush, shimmering sound. He has single-handedly crafted a revolution in the development and history of this instrument, both redesigning and redefining it.

Sharma has made popular and innovative recordings, including “Call of the Valley,” “Feelings” and “Mountains,” and has made the sound of the santur indispensable to Indian film music, composing music for Bollywood films “Silsila,” “Lamhe,” “Chandni” and “Darr.”

Since making his first public performance in 1955, Sharma has traveled throughout the world and has garnered many prestigious awards and titles. In 2001, he was given the Padma Vibhushan by the president of India, the country’s second highest civilian honor. He received the Ustad Hafiz Ali Khan Award in 1998, which honors outstanding classical musicians in India and abroad. In 1991, he was awarded the Padma Shri by the Government of India for his distinguished contributions and he also received an honorary doctorate from the University of Jammu. In 1986, Sharma was granted the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award by India’s apex body for performing arts.

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