“The PanOrient Express”

On Saturday, February 21, 2004, Friends of Indian Music and Dance will present a string ensemble featuring Grammy-award winning percussionist, Glen Velez, on the frame drum, Shubha Sankaran on the surbahar, and Dr. Brian Q. Silver on the sitar.

The concert, “The PanOrient Express,” will start at 7:00 pm in the Music Dept. Recital Hall on UVM’s Redstone Campus.

Tickets, available at the door, are $10 for general admission, $7 for FIMD members and $5 for students. CDs and Indian snacks will be on sale in the lobby during intermission.

Shubha Sankaran (Shoob-hah Shun-cur-un) studied instrumental music with Ustad Imrat Khan, and vocal music with the late Pandit Shrikant Bakre.

Shubha Sankaran and Brian Silver have performed together throughout the United States, including at Lincoln Center in New York, and in concert and in radio and television broadcasts in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Morocco, Europe, and Central and South America.

She has composed and performed music for the award-winning National Public Radio series, “Passages to India;” and the award-winning 1997 BBC documentary, “Monsoon.” She has also appeared on NPR’s “All Things Considered.”

Brian Q. Silver, after graduating from Harvard College in 1964, came to India under a Fulbright grant to learn sitar with Ustad Ghulam Hussain Khan of the Bande Ali Khan gharana.

He returned to the U.S. in 1966 and has since appeared in concert in radio and television broadcasts in several countries. In 1988, he was awarded the honorary title, Khan Sahib, by the All Pakistan Music Conference.

He has a Ph.D from University of Chicago, and has taught Urdu language and literature, Indian music, and South Asian culture at Harvard University, University of Chicago and University of Virginia. He is currently Chief of the Voice of America’s Urdu Service in Washington.

Grammy-award winning percussionist Glen Velez is often globe-trotting on an international touring schedule.

Recently voted “Best Percussionist of the Year” with a 2001 Drummies award by DRUM! Magazine, Velez has emerged as an international soloist and seminal figure in the history of the frame drum.

Over two decades ago he brought a new genre of drumming into the Western music world by creating his own compositional style inspired by years of drumming studies from various cultures.

After fifteen years performing and recording with Steve Reich (1973-1988) and Paul Winter (1983-1998), Velez is working as a soloist while continuing to collaborate with a variety of top-notch professionals such as Pat Metheny, Richard Stoltzman, Suzanne Vega, Howard Levy, Zakir Hussain, and Oregon.

His own compositions have been featured on NPR’s All Things Considered and John Schaefer’s New Sounds and they have been commissioned by the Rockefeller Foundation, Jerome Foundation, and Reader’s Digest.

He has written music for theater and dance and recorded hundreds of albums. In addition, he has several instructional videos and ten recordings of his own.

As a master teacher who conducts workshops worldwide, Velez developed his own teaching method called Handance.

It incorporates voice and body movement into the process of learning to play the frame drum and has proven to be of great benefit to professionals and beginners alike.

The surbahar (soor-ba-haar) developed from the oldest stringed instrument of India, the been, or rudra vina. The surbahar is characterized by its deep, rich voice, and has a practical range of three and a half octaves, with a wide neck, thick strings, and a single large, flat gourd.

The surbahar has eleven sympathetic strings that help to create the distinctive sound of the instrument, and employs the technique of “bending” a note by the deflection of one of the playing strings sideways across a fret for a range of up to seven tones.

The sitar, currently the most important stringed instrument in the Hindustani (Northern Indian) tradition, is relatively well-known in the West.

It consists of a gourd with a wooden faceplate attached to a wooden neck, with movable frets arching over a set of sympathetic strings and six main playing strings.

Its distinctive sound is created by a sloping bridge which creates a distinctive timbre very rich in overtones.

The history of the frame drum begins in the ancient Middle East. The instrument was popular through-out the Mediterranean world including Mesopotamia, Egypt and Greece.

Velez has also found several Biblical references to the frame drum, known as the tof in ancient Hebrew. The tambourine is a member of the frame drum family of portable, hand-held drums.

The depth of the frames is shallow and the diameters of the heads range from six to thirty inches. Some instruments have bells or jingles attached; others do not.

Velez draws on an eclectic mix of instruments and traditions including the South Indian kanjira (a small lizard skin instrument with a single set of jingles), the riq or duff (frame drums from the Middle East with loud jingles and a wide dynamic range), the gaval (a frame drum from Central Asia played with an unusual finger snapping technique), the pandeiro (the lively instrument from Brazil with rows of jingles), the tamburello (an instrument used in healing rituals in southern Italy), and the North African tar.

Each drum creates melodic as well as rhythmic material and provides a different tone color.

The Friends of Indian Music and Dance is a Burlington-based production group of Indian classical music and dance, affiliated with the University of Vermont.

This concert is the third production of FIMD’s twelfth concert season. The first concert of the season, co-presented with the Flynn Center for Performing Arts, featured John McLaughlin and Zakir Hussain in Remember Shakti on Oct. 9, 2003.

An Odissi dance-drama by Sreyashi Dey and troupe was presented on Oct. 25 th . The season concludes with an exciting South Indian Flute & Percussion Ensemble, featuring flute maestro Shashank, on March 27, 2004.

Please call 802/656-0799 or 802/863-6027, or visit www.uvm.edu/~fimd for further information.- Press Release