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Friday, August 10, 2007

Mission Indian That's Not Pakwan For Once

Posted By on Fri, Aug 10, 2007 at 6:35 AM

ASD digs Indian. Indian music, Indian girls, Madlib's new Beat Konducta "In India", and more rootsy stuff like this story by ASD's Andrea Pflaumer. Pflaumer's our resident expert on sitars and whatnot, and below she tells you what the Mission's Sangati Center is up to. Hit it, Andrea. -d2

Unplugged, yet Plugged In


Two years ago, on track for a graduate degree in ethnomusicology, jazz violinist Gautam Ganeshan left his hometown of Austin, to establish the Mission’s Sangati Center, a non-profit teaching and performance venue for traditional classical and fusion artists, with a decided lean toward India’s Hindustani and Carnatic music.

"I wanted to carve a life for myself outside institutional music," he explains.

In its brief history, Sangati has already hosted some of India’s most notable musicians along with workshops and performances by advanced students from the Ali Akbar School of Music ‘farm club’ in San Rafael. On August 31 and September 1 Sangati will hold a residency by world-renowned sitar player Shakir Khan, who, since his early teens has accompanied his father, the celebrated Ustad Shahid Pervez.

Sangati means ‘coming together’ or ‘moving together’ in Sanskrit, a theme that resonates with the area’s avid fan base for Indian classical and Asian-fusion music. As part of the Mission Arts and Performance Project, the Center has teamed up with the Red Poppy Art House around the corner to host opening/closing receptions on the first Thursday of every month for a rotating exhibit of multi-media visual artists and to share in the promotion of world music performers who come through both facilities.

Sangati recalls something of the art houses of the 1950’s and 60’s that nurtured the likes of jazz icons John Coltrane and Thelonius Monk, and incubated the careers of folk artists like Dylan. Those were raw and often messier times, with music that drew from the deepest creative wells. Ganeshan’s mission is no less committed and to that end he requires two things of his performers: 1) that they be serious about taking their music to that ‘well’ and 2) that they perform without amplification.

Ganeshan, who has a pick-up on his violin, explains: "I'm not an activist -- I don't think all music should be un-amplified, but if you're a music lover and you never hear acoustic music you’re really missing something. Amplification captures sound but it doesn't always capture the music -- it doesn't get the overtones." The unplugged format has not always been an easy sell but the Center's intimate space, where the audience sits just two to three feet from the performers, makes the pitch easier. If you go for one of the traditional all-night classical Indian music marathons, Sangati’s events coordinator, Sitar Mody provides some killer chai.

Sangati Center

3049 22nd Street

San Francisco

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David Downs


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