Gopal Shankar Misra

India

As a teenager, Dr Gopal Shankar Misra took up his father's earlier mission to establish the veena in the panoply of Indian instruments and to carry it out into the world. Not only was it unusual for the vichitra veena to be taken out of the country but it was also unheard of for it to be moved out of the classical or light tradition. The Ananda Shankar/State of Bengal tour of 1998 was the first step in this development and Gopal, a member of the touring group, was very interested in matching up the veena in different ways than the usual Hindustani combination of tabla and tanpura. However, the need remained for a high quality studio rendition of the vichitra veena in its classical setting. Such a project had not been attempted for some time, and certainly not in such completely empathetic conditions.

These recordings were made just after successful appearances at the 1999 WOMAD Festival when the party joined up with producer John Leckie at Real World Studios. Everything clicked. Gopal had made friends with Andy White and his musicians in the next studio. He was as adept with a table tennis bat as he was with the veena. The days consisted of music, good food and conversation. It was one of those late summer weeks where everything seemed still, a pause button had been pressed, and the countryside slumbered. Out of the stillness came these beautiful sounds. A month later, in Bhopal at a concert dedicated to his father, Dr Gopal Shankar Misra died. The summer was just turning to autumn in England. It was not possible to press rewind.

"Indian classical music is a timeless art. It knows no age, it has no yesterdays or tomorrows, just as there are no old rivers, no old seas, nor an old wind."
Raghava R Menon

"The veena is just like an ocean."
Dr Gopal Shankar Misra