Thursday, July 20, 2006

Rahman at Hollywood Bowl

  • A multi-ethinic, multi-racial chorus group (from Miami) called "Global Rhythms" that sings ethnic music from non-western cultures using western instruments.
  • Another group from Stanford University called "Raagpella" that specializes in a style of vocal singing that's not accompanied by musical instruments called 'A cappella'.
  • A gypsy music troupe from Rajasthan called "Musafir".
  • Hariharan, Sukhwinder Singh, Sadhana Sargam, Madhushree, Anisha Nagarajan
  • Sivamani and a bunch of other percussionists

  • A legendary open-air modern amphitheatr called Hollywood Bowl with a capacity just shy of 18,000 which has been the stage for some significant to notable performances by The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Frank Sinatra and The Monty Python.
  • Make 70% of that 18,000 white/Caucasian and only the remaining 30%, desi.
  • Bring in Tom Schnabel, the director of World Music Programming for KCRW, a popular NPR flagship station in West Coast, to host the show.
  • And yeah, bring in the center piece of this Jigsaw puzzle "The Mozart of Madras", AR RAHMAN.

That should give you some flavor of the whole evening.

Tom Schnabel started out with an introduction saying that Rahman composed in a wide variety of genres including Classical, Rock, Pop, New Age all done in Indian style. The performance of the evening, "Bombay Theme", seemed to have been Rahman's standing-up to the introduction. Subsequent performances included pieces from Dil Se, Taal, Bombay Dreams, Rang De Basanti, Roja, Bombay and Yuva. Some of those grandiloquent pieces like "Ramta Jogi" employed "Global Rhythms" and "Raagapella". And in the tradition of carnatic concerts, Rahman gives away a slice of the evening to the percussionist Sivamani. And this guy tries out variety of beat cycles culminating in the three beat clapping cycle of the audience, yeah, the appeal of percussionists is more instant and universal. This rapper guy called "Blaaze" spiced up the evening with his occasional rapping of some Rahman numbers like "Humma Humma".

Rahman concluded the evening with "Vande Mataram" with the Indian tri-color fluttering on the giant TV screens.

Many of these numbers set people to swaying and hip-shaking often in Bollywood style. A guy called Richard Corliss summarizes the concert in TIME well before it even took place. :)

I thought some of the numbers performed that evening would be better appreciated in headphones than in a concert setting, for a couple of reasons: one. many of those Rahman's minute improvisations are simply not possible in a concert setting. two. Multitude of those instruments can amount to noise in a concert setting. I've to say that its more an observation than a compliant.