India's Violin Master L. Shankar Returns To New York In Novemver
Master violinist and vocalist L. Shankar (aka Shenkar) is renowned for his deeply soulful performances of Indian classical music. Since playing his first solo concert at the age of seven, he has gone on to accompany many of South India's leading vocalists and become a major soloist. In the 1970s, with John McLaughlin and Zakir Hussain, he co-founded the legendary Indo-jazz group Shakti. In the 1980s, he introduced a 10-string double violin capable of covering the whole range of the orchestra's string section from violin to double bass. Since then he has continued to expand the international audience for Indian music, often combining North Indian (Hindustani) and South Indian (Carnatic) styles. He will be accompanied by Neel Agrawal on tabla (tuned drums) and ghatam (clay pot).
L. Shankar, born into a renowned family of musicians, is the son and disciple of V. Laskshminarayana and L. Seethaklakshmi, and began to study the violin at the age of five. In the early part of his career, he was an accompanist to masters of the South Indian vocal tradition, a member of a trio with his brothers L. Vaidyanathan and L. Subramaniam, and extensively performed with the great mrdangam player Palghat Mani Iyer. In India, he received numerous awards for his outstanding musicianship, including the Best Violinist Award from the Madras Music Academy. He came to the US in 1969, where his work as a soloist and collaborator with such artists as Zakir Hussain, John McLaughlin and Vikku Vinayakram placed him in the forefront of expanding the horizons of Indian music. His own invention, the 10-string double violin, which was built by Ken Parker, was introduced through his 1980 release, Who's To Know. He toured extensively with Peter Gabriel and co-wrote with him the Grammy award-winning soundtrack for The Last Temptation of Christ. He has also worked as a composer, arranger, producer, singer, and violinist with Frank Zappa, Phil Collins, Talking Heads, Lou Reed, Bruce Springsteen, Sting, Van Morrison, and U2, among others. In recent years, he has used a new stage name, Shenkar.
Neel Agrawal, based in Los Angeles, incorporates various styles of world percussion into his own distinctive musical voice. He has performed with leading musicians in a wide range of musical contexts, including Indian and Western classical, rock, jazz, electronic, hip hop, and fusion. In 2016, he was selected as one of six artists from the US to participate in "Celebrate the Connections," an intensive urban arts and education tour of India sponsored by the US State Department and the US Embassy in New Delhi, and coordinated by Cultural Vistas in New York. Group performances in India's largest cities - Kolkata, Chennai, Mumbai, and Delhi - showcased his ability to integrate a wide range of rhythmic styles forming the backbone between musicians, dancers, poets, and visual artists from different continents. He has performed with L. Shankar, Flamenco India (Oliver Rajamani), sitarist Rajib Karmakar, the UC Santa Barbara Music of India Ensemble, and the UC Santa Cruz Percussion Ensemble, among others. Additionally, Neel was the section leader of the Michigan State University Drumline, where he received two national tenor drumming awards from the Percussive Arts Society.
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