Perhaps some credit should go to the Oscar-winning film "Slumdog Millionaire" for the near-capacity crowd on hand for the India Calling! event Sunday night at the Hollywood Bowl. A grand panoply of traditional and modern music, dance, art and cuisine, the evening highlighted India's seemingly limitless aesthetic varieties.
The Ravi Shankar Centre Ensemble's performance presented the classical and folk elements of India's fertile musical legacy using intriguing hybridized forms. Curated by Shankar and conducted by his daughter Anoushka, the orchestra played works that demonstrated the impressive diversity of instrumentation and vocal styles that the more traditionally based Indian forms can accommodate -- there was graceful and fiery interplay between sitars, tablas, violins and guitars, revealing a wide emotional and textural range.
Anoushka Shankar conducted the ensemble with exuberant precision.
The five-member Rhythm of Rajasthan ensemble whipped up a tough, romping set featuring percussion, strings and reed-like instruments. A resplendently clad dancer twirled while executing a series of tricks: standing on cups while balancing a high stack of bowls on her head, or bending over backward to pick up rings with her eyes.
The Anoushka Shankar Project presented the evening's most genuinely progressive music. The program showcased her virtuosic sitar skills in pieces that incorporated such Western elements as cello and piano and slightly overamplified kit drums alongside the standard tabla drums, the shehnai reed instrument and droning tanpura.