Gopal Shankar Misra

The liquid and expressive sound of the vichitra veena lends itself wonderfully to Indian classical music's general aim of making an instrument emulate the human voice. Dr Gopal Shankar Misra (1957-1999) was recognised as a leading exponent of this ancient and rare instrument.

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 outside of the classical or light tradition.

 

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

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.

The recording sessions for Out of Stillness took place just after successful appearances at the 1999 WOMAD Festival when the party joined up with producer John Leckie at Real World Studios.

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

Further reading

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Featuring 8 artists, WOMAD at Home offers a 360° listening experience designed for headphones.

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Tim, whose music is published by Real World, releases his new album on 28th August.