Jan. 21, 1927-Jan. 13, 2013
Born into a prominent musical family in Mangalore, India, Harihar Rao taught and performed on both tabla and sitar. A disciple of Ravi Shankar, he dedicated his life to the education, presentation, and preservation of the finest Indian classical music and dance with a legendary insistence on excellence at every level.
Known to most as a prolific concert organizer, his extensive knowledge and versatility were also exemplified as an educator and researcher; a recording and performing artist; a composer of film music; program producer for radio station KPFK; and an
author of books on Indian music.
As a Fulbright Scholar at UCLA in the 1960s, Harihar conducted research on comparative rhythms and developed a unique system for understanding Indian rhythmic systems. His expertise attracted many esteemed jazz musicians with whom he performed and recorded in a group called 'The Hindustani Jazz Sextet'. He also held positions as both an instructor and program director at universities including UCLA, Cal State Los Angeles, CalTech, California Institute of the Arts, and Cal State Long Beach.
In 1973, while on a tour of Occidental College in Los Angeles, Ravi Shankar and Harihar Rao visited Herrick Chapel. Upon stepping inside Ravi Shankar remarked, "I want to play here!" The two men founded The Music Circle on the spot and Harihar became President and Artistic Director, a position he maintained for 40 years.
Harihar Rao's sincere dedication and contributions have infused his name with the deepest respect and admiration of friends, students and fellow musicians, and insure him an esteemed legacy in the history of Indian music and arts.
A resident of Pasadena since 1964 and US citizen since 1969, he is survived by his beloved wife, Paula Turner Rao, a large family in India, and a host of dear friends. A public memorial will be held on Saturday, January 26, 2013 from 2 PM to 4:30 PM in Thorne Hall at Occidental College. Please visit http://www.MusicCircle.org for details and reservations. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations to The Music Circle in honor of Ravi Shankar and Harihar Rao would be appreciated.
Published in Pasadena Star-News on Jan. 25, 2013