UPDATED:  February 27, 2011 10:42 PM
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Ravi Shankar celebrates his 90th birthday at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall on May 23

Washington, D.C– Legendary virtuoso sitarist, composer, teacher and writer Ravi Shankar returns to the Kennedy Center Concert Hall to celebrate his 90th birthday on Monday, May 23.

Known worldwide as India’s most esteemed musical ambassador, Ravi Shankar was the student of the illustrious guru “Baba” Ustad Allaudin Khan. Already a star in India, Shankar came to international attention in the 1960s after attracting the admiration of leading western musical leaders George Harrison of the Beatles and violinist Yehudi Menuhin.

The youngest son of a Bengali family, Ravi Shankar was born in 1920 in Varansi (Benares), the holiest of Indian cities. At age ten, he accompanied elder brother Uday Shankar and his company of dancers and musicians to Paris, where the younger Shankar attended school before returning to India in 1938. From 1949 and 1956, Shankar combined concert performances with work for All India Radio, where he established the National Chamber Orchestra.

A prolific composer, Ravi Shankar has collaborated with Western musicians and composed numerous traditional ragas and talas. His Concerto for Sitar and Orchestra was commissioned and premiered by the London Symphony Orchestra under André Previn. A second sitar concerto, Raga-Mala (“A Garland of Ragas”), was commissioned and premiered by the New York Philharmonic under the direction of Zubin Mehta in 1980. Shankar’s chamber works for sitar and other instruments includes violin-sitar compositions for Yehudi Menuhin and works for flute virtuoso Jean-Pierre Rampal, shakuhachi master Hosan Yamamoto, and koto virtuoso Musumi Miyashita. Shankar has enjoyed a close relationship with Philip Glass, collaborating with the composer on the 1990 album Passages and the recent multi-artist work Orion, which opened the 2004 Cultural Olympiad in Greece.

Ravi Shankar has composed extensively for film and ballet. He was nominated for both a Grammy and Oscar for his original score to the Academy-Award-winning classic Gandhi and composed and choreographed the ballet “Ghanashyam.”

Ravi Shankar is the recipient of many awards and honors including the Indian government’s highest civilian award, the “Bharat Ratna,” or “Jewel of India.” He is a Fellow of the Sangeet Natak Academy and Founder President of The Research Institute for Music and the Performing Arts.

Ravi Shankar’s extensive discography of more than 60 albums includes In Celebration, a lavishly documented four-CD retrospective of his greatest recordings issued in honor of his 75th birthday, and Full Circle, Carnegie Hall 2000, Shankar’s first live-concert recording in nearly two decades for which he received the Grammy Award for Best World Music Record.

He is the author of three books: My Music, My Life (in English), Rag Anurag (in Bengali), and Raga Mala (in English), an autobiography that was released in 1999. The father of two accomplished musicians, sitarist Anoushka Shankar and Norah Jones, he divides his time between India and the United States, with regular visits to Europe and the Far East.

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