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Six degrees of separation is a theory originally proposed by playwright Frigyes Karinthy and popularized in a play written by John Guare. The theory is that everyone is six or fewer steps away, by way of introduction, from any other person in the world. After moving to Santa Cruz nine years ago, I believe the theory is more likely, two degrees of separation. I have often been surprised by how many people are connected to Santa Cruz in some way and yet the only name I haven’t heard mentioned is Kevin Bacon.
Small degrees of separation is the story behind how Internationally renowned, Santa Cruz based, Cellist, Barry Phillips met Internationally renowned, contemporary Indian composer and musician Ravi Shankar in 1996 and spent almost 20 years working together until Ravi’s death at the age of 92 in 2012.
Ravi Shankar spent his youth touring Europe and India with the dance group of his brother Uday. He gave up dancing in 1938 to study sitar playing under court musician Allauddin Khan. After finishing his studies in 1944, Shankar worked as a composer, and went on to become music director of ‘All India Radio’ from 1949 to 1956. In the 1960s through his association with violinist Yehudi Menuhin and rock artist George Harrison of the Beatles, Ravi catapulted onto the world music scene. In 2013 he was posthumously awarded two Grammy awards, one for lifetime achievement, another for The Living Room Sessions Part 1 in the world music category. Barry was there to honor Ravi.
Barry Phillips received a Masters of Music degree in composition from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music in 1990. He went on to be involved with many recordings of American, Celtic and other folk music as cellist, engineer and producer. He has also orchestrated and conducted for several film scores for Orion Pictures and HBO.
In 1996 Ravi was looking for a cellist to play on his “Chants of India” recording. A friend of Barrys, Martin Simpson saw him play cello in Los Angeles and recommended Barry to producer and colleague of Ravi’s, Alan Kozlowski. That lead to Barry’s first meeting with Ravi in his home in Encinitas, CA. where he played him an Irish slip jig. Ravi loved it and so began a long term partnership between the 2 musicians.
If you would like more information about Barry Phillips you can go to barryphillipsmusic.com.