A New Musical Language

What started as a casual meeting in 1994 later turned into marriage and a musical partnership unlike any the world has experienced before. East Marries West represents not only the name of this powerful duet but also the relationship and music created by sitar master Shubhendra Rao and cellist Saskia Rao-de Haas. The duo is now bringing their unique pairing to the University Center for the Arts on September 22 with the first show in the Classical Convergence series.

“It was the love of music that brought us together,” says Shubhendra. “A casual meeting in Delhi when Saskia came to India for the first time in 1994 led to a good friendship with a mutual respect for each other’s passion for music. This eventually led to love and a life together, both on as well as off stage.”

“We travel the world to perform our music and show people that music has no boundaries,” says Saskia. “We have come together through our music and now we want to bring more people in to enjoy the richness of Indian music.”

As a prodigious sitar player, Shubhendra’s performances have enthralled audiences at major concert venues around the world including Carnegie Hall, Sydney Opera House, Salzburg International Music Festival and Beijing Performing Arts Centre.

Saskia Rao-de Haas, a classically trained cello virtuoso from the Netherlands, is a pioneer in the introduction of the Indian cello to classical Indian music. Creating a cello with one extra string plus ten resonation strings, her unique instrument better suits the demands of playing classical Indian music. In addition, she designed the cello to be played on the floor in order to join her fellow Indian musicians.

“The Indian cello came into being through my own growth within Indian music,” says Saskia. “As I sit cross-legged on the floor with the cello, I wanted a slightly smaller instrument without sacrificing any of the sound quality.”

The inspiration for their music comes from each other and maintaining their commitment to their respective art forms explains Shubhendra. Many of their pieces are based on improvisations and “being in the zone.”

“There is more to music than being a great musician: it is about connecting with people through music,” added Saskia. “This connection is divine and the greatest inspiration for our music.”

The audience has a lot to look forward to when East Marries West takes the stage says the duo.

“We will be joined on stage by an amazing Indian percussionist, the dynamic tabla player Aditya Kalyanpur who is phenomenal,” says Shubhendra. “We have been told that the combination of sitar & Saskia’s Indian cello is almost like a full orchestra. We’re looking forward to sharing our music to the audience in Fort Collins for the first time.”

“The entire show is pure joy to us,” says Saskia. “We create music to touch people and transport them to a different world. With our unique backgrounds as artists, it will be a new experience for the audience that will stay with them.”

In addition to creating a new genre of music, East Marries West is also dedicated to empowering children through music and creating a meaningful connection with people around the globe.

“Apart from performing all over the world, we run a music education foundation in India where we have empowered more than 20,000 children through music,” says Saskia. “Music has the power to connect people and break down boundaries. This is a message we believe in and feel is very important in today’s world.”

Don’t miss your chance to experience this East-West musical collaboration described as “a new musical language that is both avant-garde and traditional.” Seats from $22 at LCtix.com.

NOLA Comes to FoCo

Take a trip to NOLA when music legends play The Lincoln Center with Take Me To The River Live! Celebrating the Music of New Orleans on Oct. 12.

 “The city of New Orleans has many sounds,” says Roger Lewis of the renowned Dirty Dozen Brass Band, a group synonymous with the NOLA brass band sound. “[The show] brings the different styles of New Orleans music together, whether it’s jazz and funk with us or Ivan and Ian Neville, the blues with Wolfman Washington and a taste of Mardi Gras with Big Chief Monk Boudreaux and Big Chief Romeo.”

Following the success of the documentary and tour celebrating the music of Memphis, filmmaker and producer Martin Shore brought together three generations of legendary Crescent City talent to showcase the past, present and future of New Orleans music through individual and collaborative performances.

“We all share the love of New Orleans music and it shows on stage,” says Lewis. “You can hear the history in our music, but we also bring in sounds from today and have fun with it.

Celebrating over 40 years since their founding in 1977, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band has taken the traditional foundation of brass band music and incorporated it into a blend of genres including Bebop Jazz, Funk and R&B/Soul. This unique sound, described by the band as a ‘musical gumbo,’ has allowed the Dirty Dozen to tour across five continents and more than 30 countries, record 12 studio albums and collaborate with a range of artists from Modest Mouse to Widespread Panic to Norah Jones.

“Playing with the guys in my band is already an honor every day and to bring the Neville’s into that is a special thing,” says Lewis.

Ivan Neville and Ian Neville, members of Dumpstaphunk and descendants from Neville family bloodlines, are soldiers of funk that ignite a deep, gritty groove that dares listeners not to move. Their performances combine ingenious musicianship and complex funk and jazz arrangements.

Also included in the legendary line up is Walter “Wolfman” Washington. His guitar style combines both rhythm and blues, blues, New Orleans funk and modern jazz into a way of playing that is uniquely his.

Part music, part heritage, part ancestry, part revelry and part fashion, Mardi Gras Indians Big Chief Monk Boudreaux head of the Golden Eagle Mardi Gras Indian tribe and Big Chief Romeo Bougere of the 9th Ward Hunters bring the New Orleans Mardi Gras Indian culture and tradition to life.

Whether you’re a NOLA regular or have yet to visit the infamous town, Lewis says the show will transport you there.

“You can look forward to a great night of New Orleans music. A night of dancing, singing and celebrating the sights and sounds of New Orleans. If you haven’t been there, you’ll be taken there for a night, and if you have been there, you’ll be glad to back!”

“I have a saying, that it’s impossible to sit still at one of our shows! Once we start playing, you feel it and you want to dance. And we invite the audience to join us and have a great time, that’s what it’s all about.”

And, for the first time ever, folks who love to stand up and get down can do just that when they purchase special Standing Room Only (SRO) tickets to this show.

Celebrate NOLA with some of the most influential figures of modern New Orleans funk, R&B, soul and jazz, together on the same stage for a night of unforgettable music! Seats from $20 at LCtix.com.

Curtailing Cat-astrophe with Conservation

Finding big cats around the world is no easy task. With most on the verge of extinction, wildlife journalist Steve Winter is on a mission to tell their story and save them from a terrible fate. As part of The Lincoln Center’s new National Geographic Live Series, Winter will present On the Trail of Big Cats on Oct 10. In an effort to educate, Winter shares breath-taking images and retells astonishing behind-the-scene stories of his experiences with these beautiful creatures.

“I’m a wildlife photojournalist but I started out covering people and cultures. That was very important to me because I learned how to tell a story,” says Winter. “Photography really spoke to me. That you can tell a story in one small moment of a photograph and that became my life’s dream.”

Winter’s journey as a photographer allows him to not only educate people about the majestic animals he photographs but also the story behind them. For Winter, storytelling is just as important as capturing the images because it helps people understand the importance of each creature.

“These stories can’t end on the pages of National Geographic,” says Winter.

This is why you’ll find Winter in the deep recesses of the Amazon, or chasing a snow leopard in the Himalaya, all in search of one shot that tells the story of these big cats best.

“I’m extremely passionate about conservation,” says Winter. “I spent over two decades organizing expeditions to remote locations around the world. One of my goals is that my images actually help to save the subjects that I’m covering.”

“I become so involved, so emotional, and so passionate about the stories I work on, bringing that to the general public is one of the most joyful parts of my job. “

Come experience these elusive creatures as photographed in their natural habitats across the world as On the Trail of Big Cats comes to the Fort Collins Lincoln Center Oct. 10. Seats from $15.