Voyage to India

Kakali Bandyopadhyay

For most Atlantans, the musical and cultural offerings of the city's Indo-American population are a relatively undiscovered country. In other words, India's cultural legacy is much bigger than Bollywood. And Dr. Kakali Bandyopadhyay — a master classical performer on the sitar, India's best-known musical instrument — is attuned to that difference in public awareness, as she is both an artist affiliate at Emory University and a biotechnologist associated with the nearby Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Creative Loafing recently caught up with Bandyopadhyay, who is based in India, where she was performing concerts and visiting family. "Atlanta has an extensive Indo-American community that already made significant contributions to the fields of science, medicine, engineering, education and business, and society in general," Bandyopadhyay says. She also notes that Atlanta's Indo-American community stays closely connected with its roots through active communications, travel and cultural/intellectual exchanges.

"In music and performing arts, there is a constant flow of performers and performances from the Indian subcontinent," she says. And recognition among Atlanta audiences is slowly growing, as listeners new to the music experience it firsthand.

"Understanding of any form of classical music compared to the pop culture — which, in the Indian context, is dominated by Bollywood — [is] the same in all cultures," Bandyopadhyay says. "It is difficult to do justice to a tradition so rich in depth, and so old, by explaining it in a single statement." She suggests the best approach is simply "listening to it with a completely open mind, without trying to equate it with aspects such as technical intricacies, spiritualism, etc. Once people start enjoying the sound of it, everything will follow."

Kakali Bandyopadhyay. Admission is free. 8 p.m. Thurs., Feb. 8. Emerson Hall, Schwartz Center for Performing Arts, Emory University.

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