Arts and Entertainment

Renowned classical Indian music artists to perform

Ty Burnhoe plays the tabla for classical Indian music. - Courtesy of Jon Crane
Ty Burnhoe plays the tabla for classical Indian music.
— image credit: Courtesy of Jon Crane

The music of India has spent thousands of years evolving, while retaining its roots. It is a rich and personal tradition passed from teacher to student over years of instruction.

For one night, Bainbridge Island will experience this harmonious history.

The Grace Church off Day Road will present Music of India at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 11. Tickets are $15 in advance or $20 at the door. They can be purchased at the Pegasus Coffee House and at www.talarecords.com.

The performance will feature three inspiring artists: Steve Oda, Ty Burnhoe and special guest Gina Salá.

“It’s classical Indian music,” said Jon Crane, the concert’s producer. “It’s a tradition that goes back thousands of years in India.”

Oda was once primarily a jazz guitarist. After experiencing Indian music, and spending considerable time studying it, he now wows audiences with his skill on the serode, a stringed musical instrument.

Salá, a global vocalist, has been the featured talent in productions of Cirque du Soleil.

Burnhoe is widely known as an expert tabla player. The tabla is a pair of hand drums used for rhythmic musical compositions.

Burnhoe’s work with classical Indian music, however, has taken him a bit outside of the classical realm.

“With the instrument I play I end up playing with people like Steely Dan and Def Leopard. I’ve played with Sting,” Burnhoe said.

“The cool thing about Indian music today is that the musicians who play it have their toes in this other world,” he said.

Burnhoe won’t be playing from his work with famous pop artists, though. He will open the show with Salá performing Indian folk music.

“They’ll play traditional Kirtan music,” Crane said. “It’s like folk devotional music.”

Oda and Burnhoe will finish the concert with ragas, playing off of each other.

“Ragas are carefully shaped scales,” Burnhoe said. “It very strategically places the order of notes you are allowed to play into a landscape or a caricature of a melody.”

Ragas are passed down from teacher to student. Many are centuries old and are primarily improvised upon to create music.

“As long as you stick to those rules that are laid out, then the character of the melody stays intact for the full one hour rendition of that song,” Burnhoe said. “It’s probably about 95 percent improvisation.”

The improvisation creates a unique concert for audiences. Running through ragas together, Burnoe and Oda will create a song never heard before, and perhaps won’t be again.

“Because of the improvisation, what people can look for is the support of trading self-expression between the two artists,” Burnhoe said.

Trading off one another comes to the forefront, and Burnoe and Oda depend upon each other to carry the song.

“It’s pretty amazing to watch these two guys play,” Crane said. “They are just so expressive in what they do and their interaction with the audience through their music.”

“Some people when they play music, they go inward,” he added. “But Ty and Steve kind of go outward. It’s an inviting energy they give to the performance.”

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