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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Sounds of India at Early Music Now

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When it began, Early Music Now concentrated on presenting concerts in Milwaukee by leading performers of the pre-Baroque music of Western Europe—a field of forgotten music that won many new adherents after the 1960s. In more recent years, the group has branched out considerably. For its next concert, Early Music Now presents an evening of classical Indian music as sung by Nagaraja Rao Havaldar.

Like most of India’s great musicians, Havaldar learned the music at home in a family tradition and apprenticed himself to living masters in a learning process of many years. The genre he focuses on, khayal, is of recent origin—the 1700s are recent in terms of a civilization whose origins recede into the dawn of history. Khayal is Arabic for “imagination,” a reference perhaps to the improvisatory nature of a modal music wrapped around words of romantic, erotic and divine love, along with celebrations of the seasons and the play of light at different times of day. Khayal demands an astonishing octave-gliding range against the slippery shimmer of the music. Havaldar will be accompanied at his Milwaukee concert by harmonium and tabla.

Nagaraja Rao Havaldar will perform 7 p.m. July 17 at Milwaukee Public Library’s Centennial Hall. The concert will be preceded by a 6:30 p.m. lecture.

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