CalArts Mourns Sitar Legend, Former Faculty Ravi Shankar

Above, Ravi Shankar performs on ‘The Dick Cavett Show.’

Yesterday, (Dec. 11), world-renowned sitar legend and composer Ravi Shankar passed away at the age of 92. A Grammy and Academy Award winner, Shankar is widely credited for introducing North Indian classical music to the West. He enjoyed an extraordinary career, working with musicians ranging from George Harrison to John Coltrane to David Crosby to Philip Glass.

Shankar was a CalArts faculty member from 1970-1972 following the groundbreaking of CalArts’ campus in Valencia, when the Institute began accepting its first students.

“His early, though brief, association with CalArts was fundamental in ways that still reverberate today,” said David Rosenboom, dean of The Herb Alpert School of Music at Calarts. “His association with our current North Indian music faculty is also significant.”

More on Shankar from The Washington Post:

Mr. Shankar’s association with the Beatles made him a household name in the West and created “an avalanche of such experiments in the rock and pop world,” South Asian music authority Gerry Farrell once wrote. But first and foremost, Mr. Shankar remained an Indian classical musician who kept the core aesthetics of his ancient art intact in the face of social, artistic and commercial shifts during the 20th century.

Following Shankar’s brief tenure at CalArts, he returned to multiple world tours, and in 1985, he received an honorary doctorate from CalArts.

In 1997, Shankar set up a foundation to pass on his knowledge of music, which included a repository of all his works. The Ravi Shankar Foundation has a center in New Delhi and operates under the ancient Indian system wherein students live onsite and learn and work for their teachers, according to a remembrance in Variety.

On Tuesday, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called Shankar a “national treasure.”

Watch a CNN video tribute.

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  1. Sharifah Rosso // //

    A Memorial Service for this great artist will be held on Thursday, December 20, 2012 at 10:30 a.m. on the grounds of the Self-Realization Fellowship in Encinitas, California (off Pacific Coast Hwy).