Duo offers distinctive approach to classical music of India

David Pontbriand, a Portland resident and performer on the stringed instrument called the sitar, offers a concert drawn from the classical ragas of northern India in a Bates College concert at 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 5, in the Olin Arts Center, 75 Russell St.

Amos Libby, also of Portland, accompanies Pontbriand on the hand drums called tabla.

The performance, which is is open to the public at no cost, is the annual Kendall Fund concert, made possible by the Edith C. and Raymond L. Kendall ’19 Endowment Fund.

In the world of classical sitar, David Pontbriand has the rare distinction of being almost completely self-taught. During 30 years of study, he has developed a unique style both deeply personal and strictly classical. Drawing on ancient and modern melodic forms from a 3,500-year tradition, Pontbriand’s spontaneous compositions explore and emphasize the spiritual and introspective aspects characteristic of this music.

Amos Libby has studied percussion traditions from the north and south of India, and is an accomplished performer on a variety of instruments in addition to the tabla. He divides his time between Maine and India, where he studies this discipline.

Libby’s spontaneous, expressive technique complements Pontbriand’s intuitive and emotive approach to sitar, an instrument familiar to Americans through the work of Indian master Ravi Shankar and his late protégé, former Beatle George Harrison. The March 4 program will plumb the wide range of the genre, from soul-searching meditation to exhilarating rhythmic exchanges.

The artists will also offer rare performances on related instruments, such as the surbahar, a larger sitar-like instrument, and the tabla-tarang, a set of melodically tuned tablas.

The Kendall Fund was established by Edith C. and Raymond L. Kendall, retired professor of education and psychology at Bates. For concert information, call 207-786-6135.

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