RAVI SHANKAR & HARIHAR RAO
"Harihar Rao remembers the day the Music Circle was born. Ravi Shankar and he were strolling through the beautiful campus of Occidental College, and they walked into the calm inviting chapel. Sunlight was streaming in through large stained glass windows, and in the peaceful stillness of this sacred place two men, lovers of music, decided to create the Music Circle.”
—Excerpt from "For the Love of Music" by Ansuya Bijur
The great Pandit Ravi Shankar needs no introduction and it would take a forest to provide the paper to describe his contributions to music and the cause of music. He is a giant among masters.
Quoting from his website, www.ravishankar.org: In 1985, when Ravi Shankar received his doctorate from Cal Arts, the citation read, "Ravi Shankar, musician to the world" whose rare genius has opened the ears and minds of millions to the wondrous aesthetic of India's ancient musical tradition - adored musical ambassador whose incomparable artistry has created bridges of understanding among the peoples of the earth."
“Ravi Shankar has been honored with more than 14 honorary doctorates from all over the world including Harvard and New England Conservatory, and became the first Regent's Professor in the Department of Music at the University of California, San Diego. He has also received India's highest honor the ‘"Bharat Ratna", the Praemium Imperiale from Japan, and the Polar Music Prize from Sweden, referred to as the Nobel prize of music, Commandeur de la Legion d'Honneur, the highest French civilian award, Honorary Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth and many more. He has tirelessly been performing, teaching, composing and touring for more than 75 years.” At www.ravishankar.org you can read much more about Ravi Shankar, including his many reflections on Indian music.
Harihar Rao, noted Indian musician and disciple of Ravi Shankar, was born into a musical family in Mangalore, India. As a Fulbright Scholar at UCLA in the 1960s, Harihar conducted research on comparative rhythms that attracted some of the most esteemed Los Angeles jazz musicians. Together they formed a group they called "The Hindustani Jazz Sextet" in which Rao assisted them in producing their first odd meter compositions, and they performed and recorded at colleges and universities in the West for many years. Members included Don Ellis, Emil Richards, Tom Scott, Paul Beaver and Hari, with either Roger Kellaway or David MacKay on piano. Both Don Ellis and Emil Richards included Rao’s system in their books on rhythm and percussion.
Harihar Rao has long been dedicated to educating the public on Indian music and, for nearly 40 years, has been successful in the complicated exchange of Eastern and Western ideas at many of California's universities. In addition to UCLA, Rao has taught music and Indian culture-related subjects at CSULA, CalArts, CSULB, and CalTech. His book on sitartechniques for Westerners was published in 1966.
In 1973, with the goal of presenting India’s finest music and dance to LA audiences, Harihar Rao co-founded The Music Circle with Ravi Shankar and served as its President and Artistic Director until 2011. His ability to inspire the best from India’s great classical musicians resulted in some of their most memorable performances, a fact frequently mentioned by the performers themselves.