Instrumentalists: And Now the Sitar

It was more a musical séance than a concert. "The air was hazy with the acrid aroma of burning incense. The three barefoot musicians sat cross-legged on an Oriental rug onstage. The audience at the University of Pennsylvania's Irvine Auditorium last week was equally exotic—a curious mingling of Indians in turbans or saris, bearded jazz musicians, leather-jacketed beatniks and college students. Racing his spidery fingers across the steel strings of his sitar, Ravi Shankar invoked a whining chorus of quavering, sensuous melodies in intricate interplay with the shifting, galloping cross-rhythms of...

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