March 29, 2002
Director of Media Relations

AMHERST, Mass.—A concert of classical Indian music by the ensemble Surbahar, featuring the rarely-heard surbahar, an instrument like a bass sitar, will take place in Buckley Recital Hall at Amherst College’s Arms Music Building on Monday, April 15 at 8 p.m. Shubha Sankaran will play the surbahar, accompanied by Khansahib Brian Q. Silver on sitar, and Mohan Shyam Sharma on pakhawaj and frame drum. The performance is free and open to the public.

Sankaran plays the surbahar, a mellow-toned Indian stringed instrument or esraj, that resembles a larger, deeper-toned sitar. Usually 60 inches long, the surbahar has movable frets that allow a glissando of six or seven notes on the same fret by pulling the string across the fret. The neck, made of Cedrela tuna or teak wood, is fixed on a large pumpkin used as a resonator. The surbahar has four rhythm strings, four play strings, and 11 to 17 unplayed sympathetic strings, all lying on a flat bridge. The strings are played with a metallic pick, or mizrab, fixed on the index finger of the right hand. The surbahar has a practical range of 4 octaves. The deep powerful sound of the surbahar makes it ideal for contemplative music.

Shubha Sankaran studied instrumental music with Ustad Imrat Khan, and vocal music with the late Pandit Shrikant Bakre. Both Sakaran and Silver have been honored by the Washington D.C. Commission of Arts and Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts, performing in concert and on radio and television broadcasts in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Morocco, Central and South America and throughout the United States. Sakaran appeared before President Narayanan of India and the former President Fujimori of Peru, and at a benefit concert in Lima for the efforts of the Mother Theresa Orphanage in Lima, Peru. Silver traveled to India on a Fulbright grant to learn sitar with the late Ustad Ghulamhusain Khan. He is currently Chief of the Voice of America’s Urdu Service in Washington, as well as founder and Executive Director of International Music Associates.