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Ravi Shankar and daughter bring famed sounds of India to Gallo

No one has done more to promote Indian music in the West than Ravi Shankar.

The master sitar player famously taught Indian music to George Harrison of The Beatles and performed with violinist Yehudi Menuhin.

During the 1960s, Shankar also appeared in the Woodstock and Monterey Pop music festivals.

On Monday, the 89-year-old virtuoso plays the Gallo Center for the Arts with his 27-year-old daughter, Anoushka Shankar, also a talented sitar player.

The younger Shankar performed at the State Theatre in Modesto in 2007.

While Anoushka is known for her fusion music, which combines Eastern and Western styles, the Gallo Center concert will focus on traditional sounds.

"In this show, it will be entirely my performance," Ravi Shankar said in a phone interview. "She will be accompanying me. It will be classical and folk music of India."

The show also will include additional musicians playing tabla (Indian drums), flute and tampura (Indian drone instrument).

Shankar calls Anoushka "one of my best disciples" and said he likes her innovative music.

"It's very interesting," he said. "It's a different way of thinking and presenting."

He is also proud of his other daughter, 30-year-old American pop singer/songwriter Norah Jones. The two young women had different mothers, grew up separately and didn't meet until they were teens. Shankar married Anoushka's mother, Sukanya, and not Norah's, American concert promoter Sue Jones.

Anoushka and Norah are now close and Norah sang on one track of Anoushka's 2007 album with Karsh Kale, "Breathing Under Water."

"I'm blessed with not one but two daughters -- a great blessing," Shankar said. "(Norah) is wonderful. She doesn't perform Indian music, but whatever she does is so beautiful.

"She's got a God-given voice that is very touching."

Shankar was born in Varanasi (formerly known as Benares) and got his musical training from Baba Allaudin Khan. As a child, Shankar also danced in a troupe run by his brother, dancer and choreographer Uday Shankar.

Shankar later composed scores for radio shows, ballets and movies. Interested in learning Western music styles, he wrote two concertos for sitar and orchestra and worked with American composer Phillip Glass. Shankar became close friends with George Harrison after giving the Beatle sitar lessons.

"He was a very good student, but he could not give enough time to sitar only," Shankar said. "Otherwise, he would have become a very wonderful sitar player."

Harrison later produced some of Shankar's albums, including "Shankar Family and Friends" and "Festival of India." Harrison called Shankar "the godfather of world music."

Shankar has won three Grammy Awards -- most recently the award for 2001 best world music album for "Full Circle-Carnegie Hall 2000."

When asked what advice he would give to young musicians, he hesitated.

"I don't have any advice apart from that a true musician with creative arts in him or her is bound to flourish," Shankar said.

"Also, it depends on the stars if they are successful or less successful. They should always love music and perform for the public and try to become better and better, which I have done all my life."

He remains upbeat about his own performing career and shows no signs of slowing down.

"Music gives me the main energy, also the audience," he said. "It's very inspiring always to play for new audiences."

WHAT: Ravi and Anoushka Shankar

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Monday

WHERE: Rogers Theater, Gallo Center for the Arts, 1000 I St., Modesto

TICKETS: $30-$75

CALL: 338-2100

ONLINE: www.galloarts.org

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