Multimedia Piece Explores Role of Women in Shankar Indian Music Dynasty

Gingger Shankar

Gingger Shankar

(NORTH ADAMS, Mass.) – “Nari,” a multimedia performance piece based on the story of the women of the famed Indian musical family of Ravi Shankar, who with George Harrison of the Beatles helped bring Indian music to the West in the 1970s, will get a work-in-progress showing in the Hunter Center at MASS MoCA on Saturday, December 12, at 8 pm. Among the artists is musician Gingger Shankar, whose mother and grandmother, Viji and Lakshmi Shankar, collaborated with her great-uncle, Ravi Shankar.

Along with Gingger Shankar, the creative team of producer Dave Liang and filmmaker Sun Yunfan have created a documentary project combining animation and archival photos with live music. “Nari” brings Viji and Lakshmi’s story to life in an animated documentary and multimedia performance in which live vocals, keyboards, and Gingger’s extraordinary double violin are set to an entrancing blend of hip-hop, high-energy solos, electronica, and Viji’s never-before-heard classical Indian vocals. The result is a collage of live music, synced with video that blends film, family photos, artwork, and animation. Nari first premiered at the Toronto Film Festival.

In Sanskrit, the word “nari” means both “woman” and “sacrifice.” Nari commemorates the unsung legacy of Viji and Lakshmi, who struggled to be recognized for their achievements as female artists in a patriarchal society. Following in the footsteps of Viji and Lakshmi, Nari is a cross-cultural musical adventure that breaks down conventional boundaries to celebrate their strength and success.

Gingger Shankar is a singer, composer, and instrumentalist who has scored several well-known films, including “Charlie Wilson’s War” and Mel Gibson’s “Passion of the Christ”; guested on Katy Perry’s album, Prism; and has performed alongside acts including the Flaming Lips, Norah Jones (daughter of Ravi Shankar), and Smashing Pumpkins.

Still from 'Nari'

Still from ‘Nari’

Shankar is currently working on her debut album, co-written with Linda Perry. Liang is the producer of the Shanghai Restoration Project, a music group that fuses 1930s Shanghai jazz, traditional Chinese instruments, and contemporary hip-hop and electronica. Audiences may recall the Shanghai Restoration Project’s electrifying performance at MASS MoCA in 2011. Yunfan is a writer, artist, and filmmaker whose work focuses on relations between the United States and China.

Gingger Shankar, Dave Liang, and Sun Yunfan present a workshop performance of Nari in MASS MoCA’s Hunter Center on Saturday, December 12, at 8pm.

Crisp salads, freshly made sandwiches, and burritos the size of your head are available from Lickety Split before and during the show. A full bar serves Berkshire Brewing Company beers and Berkshire Mountain Distillery spirits. Tickets are $5 for members, $8 for students, $12 in advance, $18 day of, and $24 preferred. Tickets for all events are available through the MASS MoCA box office located on Marshall Street in North Adams, open 11am to 5pm every day except Tuesdays through spring 2016. Tickets can also be charged by phone by calling 413.662.2111 during box office hours or purchased online at MASS MoCA.


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