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Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2001


India Express

While it was Ravi Shankar who brought Indian music to the world, it's been left to others to help it sink roots. In Japan, that task has been taken up by Nagoya-based sitarist Amit Roy, who has been imparting the Hindustani tradition to his Japanese students for the past decade.

Sitarist Amit Roy

The fruits of his labor can be heard Sunday at the India Express concert, when Roy will be joined by over a dozen of his Japanese students on sitar and tabla. While some may balk at the idea of attending a concert of Hindustani music by non-Indian musicians, rest assured that all the musicians featured are proficient and capable of drawing beauty from the ragas; many of them already have separate careers in the worlds of jazz, classic and session work.

But central to the event will be Roy's own performance, accompanied by longtime collaborator Hisamoto Masanori on tabla and Yuuichi Miyashima on sarod. Born in Calcutta to a family of noted sitar makers (the Stradivarius of India), Roy has studied under both Nikhil Banerjee and Annapurna Devi, daughter of Allaudin Khan (Ravi Shankar's strict teacher), before embarking on a solo career. Unlike some of his flashier contemporaries, Roy prefers a more restrained, subtle style. Instead of blowing you away, he pulls you in, with exquisitely supple playing that squeezes the essence out of every note. Check out the CD "Midnight" (on Kobe's Xebec label) for a taste of Roy's languid magic.

Concerts of Indian music are rare enough in Japan, so this one, performed amid the foliage in Meguro's Teien Bijutsukan, should be a pleasant way to pass an autumn afternoon. Go early and have a stroll through the surrounding gardens while you're at it.

India Express -- Indian Classical Music Concert 2001: Sept. 30 at the Tokyo-to Teien Bijutsukan (Shin-kan/Dai Hall), (03) 3443-0201, a seven-minute walk from Meguro Station. Open 1:30 p.m.; 2 p.m. start. Tickets 1,500 yen in advance; 2,000 yen at the door. For ticket information, contact Shungo Fujiwara at (03) 3594-6916 or shungo@ua.airnet.ne.jp

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