Monday, April 10, Indian violinist Ragini Shankar graced Union College with the sound of Hindustani music. A musician with several generations of experience running through her veins, Shankar has travelled to world to enthrall her audiences. From India to Europe to the United States, Shankar has made her way to the college’s Taylor Music Center’s Emerson Auditorium. Shankar was accompanied with local musicians Veena Chandra on sitar and Devesh Chandra on tabla. Shankar’s ensemble played three songs.
The first, an epic 50 minute performance, started off with a slow-tempo violin solo. Shankar conveyed intense emotion and dedication to her practice in her movements — the sharpness in her note changes showed deliberance, as though each note in the song held its own story. The tabla helped move the song’s mood in a different direction, bringing up the tempo and diving into a powerful crescendo that can only be described as authentic Hindustani.
Eventually, the tabla dominated the song, steering the performance to an abrupt but fitting end. The second song saw Shankar exit the stage. Instead, Veena Chandra took to the stage with her sitar. Similar to the first song, Veena welcomed the audience to the song with a sitar solo. Interestingly, Veena controlled the volume with her tempo. The tabla entered later in the song, diverging from conventional percussion duties and matching tempo with the sitar rather than leading it like a conductor.
The combination of the instruments added a new energy to the song, this time with an approach that was the inverse of the first song. Tabla and sitar matched tempo to both slow down the song and force a decrescendo, allowing for the tabla to take over for a short-lived solo. The sitar reentered, this time allowing for the instruments to take the melody to new volumes.
The song reached an intense tempo that pulsed through the auditorium and quickly cut out, leaving listeners with a distinct ring in their ears. The third song allowed for the three musicians to finally come together and perform as a full ensemble. The trio of musicians seamlessly rotated through the spotlight, allowing for each instrument to have its own window of dominance. By the song’s end, the tempo was fast and all instruments crescendoed into a powerful wave of sound that, once over, left the audience to bathe in what is authentic Hindustani music.