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Lakshminarayan Global Music Festival With L. Subramaniam




Violinist and composer Lakshminarayana Subramaniam is no household name--and in fact, even in households used to such polysyllabic appellations, people are more likely to know his violinist brother, L. Shankar, who first caught Western ears as a cofounder of John McLaughlin's East-West fusion, Shakti, in the mid-70s. But even then Subramaniam was entertaining larger crowds, touring Europe and the U.S. with George Harrison and Ravi Shankar; he later formed the band Rainbow with American saxist John Handy and Indian sarod player Ali Akbar Khan, releasing two forgotten albums that are both treasure chests of cross-cultural invention. His unostentatious tone and exquisite control of the violin make the perfect channel through which to pour virtually any idiom: he's done jazz funk with Herbie Hancock and played it straight from both ends, recording an album with the French swing-violin master Stephane Grappelli and a five-disc anthology of Indian classical music. (He's also composed scores for several films, including the widely praised Mississippi Masala.) As his improvisations murmur, sing, and snap, you can hear why he's the only player ever to be called Violin Chakravarti, or "Emperor Among Violinists"--a title bestowed only once in a generation--while still alive. He'll appear with Vishwa Mohan Bhatt, who has mastered the discipline of raga on what his mentor Ravi Shankar frankly calls a "foreign instrument": a Hawaiian guitar he's modified for lap playing, christened the "Mohan veena" and outfitted with 19 strings and a fretless neck. Also appearing are percussionists Swapan Chaudhuri (tabla) and V. Kamalakar Rao (mridangam). The "Lakshminarayan" tag means Subramaniam intends this festival to honor his father; "Global Music" refers to the presence of Chicagoans Jon Weber (keyboard) and Corky Siegel (harmonica), Costa Rican flamenco guitarist Jorge Strunz (of Strunz & Farah), and Japanese-born koto player Miya Masaoka (who came to town last June with Fred Frith and Larry Ochs). Sunday, 3 PM, Orchestra Hall, Symphony Center, 220 S. Michigan; for tickets call 312-294-3000, and for info try 708-457-4302 or 847-967-6784. NEIL TESSER

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