R.I.P. Van Cliburn.

I know I posted this earlier when I was on my Tchaikovsky kick, but I have no shame in reblogging today. This is one of my favorite pieces ever and I’m so glad there exists a clip of Mr. Cliburn playing it:
(The end of Mvt. 1; Mvt. 2; Mvt. 3)


What an amazing musician. If you are in the mood for more, Liszt’s Un Sospiro is another personal favorite, and his rendition is gorgeous. Van Cliburn, you will be missed!


A rambling homage to George Harrison

Not trying to be overly sappy or anything, but I can honestly say that George Harrison changed my life.

In 8th grade, I had been taking piano lessons for 6 years and played clarinet in middle school band, but music wasn’t really that big a part of my life. It was more of an extracurricular “on the side” sort of thing, and I never devoted that much time to it. But then one day my mom brought home the movie A Hard Day’s Night…and that changed everything. I fell absolutely IN LOVE with the Beatles. The Beatles made me want to learn music: I sat on my bed every night learning various riffs and chords (on a guitar that was very generously gifted to me), saved up and bought CDs until I had the entire Beatles discography, and even more nerdy: bought records that I gleefully listened to out in the garage on my dad’s dusty turntable, finally understanding what it was like to love music.

From the beginning, George was my favorite. He was definitely the one I could relate to most (shout out to quiet awkward people!), and his curiosity for new kinds of music and cultures is what got me so into ethnomusicology. It’s because of him that, 6 years later, I made the impulsive decision to walk into sitar class one morning at UCLA (instead of getting intimidated and turning around, which I almost did). And as a result I fell headfirst into Hindustani music, engulfed by that same sense of obsession that 8th Grade Nikki experienced with the Beatles, spending hours sitting with my teacher, trying to understand this whole new world of music. That’s how I got into tabla, that’s how I met Alex, and that’s how I ended up in Taiwan and India getting to perform with some of the most renowned musicians in modern Indian music. I feel incredibly lucky to have gone down the path I did, and it’s largely thanks to the influence of this guy:



There are so many quirks that I love about George: his penchant for taking pictures, his obsession with ukuleles, the fact that he loved gardening. He was a pretty unconventional rockstar, and I love that about him.

I’ll round off my George ramble with, appropriately, some music. I only recently discovered this song, and I can’t stop listening to it:

Happy 70th birthday, George. Thanks for being amazing.

Ravi Shankar: The Ladies’ Man

So I didn’t get to watch the Grammys live last weekend (hooray for no cable), but I did come across this video and thought it was blog-worthy.

As far as I know, Norah Jones and Anoushka Shankar have never really appeared together on TV (they are half-sisters who didn’t meet until they were teenagers). The result is an adorably heartfelt and awkward video:

Major props to Anoushka and Norah – I’m a big fan of both and I think it’s awesome they each went down very different musical paths and have been so successful. 

A night in Oakland, with The Who

Sooooooo, on Friday night one of my lifelong dreams came true and I saw The Who in concert.

It. was. incredible.

To be quite honest, I don’t know how Pete and Roger can still do it – after almost 50 years of playing and touring, you’d think they’d have fizzled out by now. Not the case. They rocked harder than any other band I’ve ever seen live. Although, at one point, the amount of weed being smoked in the venue was so much that Roger had to ask that everyone “eat the rest” because the smoke was making his throat tighten up. Aww Roger, his voice is getting pretty shot but he did his best.

And Pete. Pete is a beast. Everything he did was spot on. The windmilling, the singing, the guitar solos. I am so amazed by him. I also thought it was cute that he wore his glasses for the whole concert (which at one point magically changed to sunglasses), making him look like a grandpa who just happens to be a guitar god.


As part of the band’s 2013 Quadrophenia tour, they played through the entire Quadrophenia album without stopping, followed by a handful of greatest hits (favorites: “Pinball Wizard” and “Baba O’Riley,” yeeee). It was so cool to hear the entire album live, even down to the ocean waves and the tea kettles whistling. The band was incredible too: Zak Starkey (son of Ringo and godson of Keith Moon) on drums, Pino Palladino on bass (let’s be real, who could replace John? but Pino is definitely the next best thing), and Simon Townshend (Pete’s brother) on guitar. So much win. So much awesome.

Some favorites from the setlist:

I’m One. I’ll be honest, there are a lot of songs on Quadrophenia that I never really listened to. This, regrettably, was one of them, and I have no idea why. It’s amazing. (1973 version with John and Keith here).

5:15. This song rocked so hard. They also incorporated John’s bass solo flawlessly, which I thought was a really nice homage. The crowd was going crazy, and it wasn’t until the end of the solo that I realized we were all cheering and screaming for someone who wasn’t actually there.

Tea and Theatre. I’m sure this is not how Pete and Roger would want themselves described, nevertheless, this song was adorable. It was the last song of the night. Watch the last 30 seconds of this video and tell me you don’t go “AWWWWWW”: