The Hindu Friday Review November Fest 2010 showcases seven diverse concerts

This edition of The Hindu Friday Review November Fest (November 15-21) assembles a unique array of musicians from five different nations — Pakistan, India, Korea, Germany and Israel — many of them first-time visitors to Chennai, and India. As always, the music showcased ranges across genres — classical, rock, pop, jazz, fusion, folk, film and world music. Over seven days, the upbeat-offbeat will jostle with the traditional, and Indian will grapple with world music, creating a unique brand of magic for the occasion.

From the land of Mehdi Hasan, Ghulam Ali and Farida Khanum comes Tina Sani, a contemporary voice from Pakistan, to cast her ghazal spell of ‘Hope and Healing' on Chennai. “Music found me,” says Tina, who has crafted her personal socio-spiritual style, shading her songs with contemporary political overtones. Romance is not forgotten, but her music is a cry for freedom, a protest against injustice, and a call for universal harmony — addressed to the lay listener as well as the wielders of power. Naturally, she found her best voice in melodising Pakistan's progressive, left-leaning, Sufism-inspired poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz.

If you are blasé about North-South encounters, take a look at this one: Carnatic flute prodigy Shashank matches his classical notes with not only with sitar player Shubhendra Rao, a disciple of Pandit Ravi Shankar, but also with the full-blooded Manganiyars of Rajasthan — Anwar Khan (vocals), Feroze Khan (dholak), and Ghewar Khan (kamaicha). Having performed in world venues with celebrity artistes such as Zakir Husain and Vishwa Mohan Bhatt, the Manganiyars are not new to this challenge. The legend of the flute-playing Blue God springs to life in ‘An Evening with Krishna' imaging the dynamism of each style — folk and classical, and Carnatic and Hindustani, as cultures are integrated through music.

Lately, it there seems as if there has been no November Fest without a Korean band. And, why not? The country excels in talent promotion and packaging to perfection. wHOOL layers the old with the new. This six-member team (Yoon-Sang Choi, Do-Gi Hong, Karam Choi, Hyunsoo Kim, Dong-il Park and Halim Ryu) combines traditional wind and percussive instruments of Korea with the piano, guitar and synthesiser to make music that breaks boundaries, pulls down walls, drawing listeners of every age and place into the toe-tapping circle. The meaning of the name wHOOL — “to empty and renew the mind” — is the ambitious aim of the young, multi-award winning band. So, come, listen, enjoy, and, as the Koreans say, “dust yourself off, and fill your mind with something new”! This concert is presented in association with InKo Centre.

With its “very personal musical style, technically without any limits” shaped by artists with “great abilities, very promising for the future,” Trio Imàge, Germany, featuring Pavlin Nechev, Gergana Gergova and Thomas Kaufman, comes to India as a seasoned team, having played to acclaim in several international festivals, winning awards at Graz, Weimar and Berlin. Their soundtrack of music by Mozart, Beethoven and Liszt appears in the film “Sasha” (directed by Dennis Todorovik). Chennai will hear Trio Imàge playing some of the best chamber music composed by the maestros, Beethoven, Mozart and Brahms, with the polished strength and intimate sensitivity demanded by the works themselves. This concert is presented by Goethe-Institut, Max Mueller Bhavan, Chennai.

Once, when singer Hariharan and composer Lesle Lewis jammed casually, how could they imagine they were launching the enormously, enduringly successful “Colonial Cousins”? This free flowing fusion had the traditional Carnatic song ‘Krishna nee begane baro' take on a new, transformational avatar, and turn into a cult song for the young swingers. With his impeccable Urdu diction, Tamil Nadu-born Hariharan blazed a trail through Indian filmdom and ghazal singing, while Lewis is remembered for pop numbers ‘Jaanam samjha karo' (Asha Bhonsle) and ‘Pari hoon mein' (Sunita Rao). And, here, the Colonial Cousins come together again, to charm the audience with their inventive melodies.

What do you do if you are stranded for three days at the in Singapore airport, without passport or identity, waiting for a special permit to visit a remote village? If you are Gotam (Yotam Agam) and Kartick (Patrick Sebag) of the Chennai-based audio-visual production house EarthSync, you make music on your laptops and come up with ‘Business Class Refugees.' Two years after the release of an album of that name, the music continues to spin on, across many nations. The duo performs around the world, collaborating with local musicians, drawing from local flavours, hosting on stage a range of artistes and cross cultural styles from many performative disciplines, backed by eye-grabbing visuals, and creating new light designs. At the November Fest, a spectacular version of ‘Business Class Refugees' features Kartick and Gotam (electronic), Eyal Mazig (bass) Erez Lev Ari (guitar, saz) Maya Resheff (contemporary dance), with Indian guest musicians, including vocalist Mahesh Vinayakram and violinst B.V. Raghavendran. After all, the theme, the experience, and the music, are as universal as they can get!

The finale, which promises to rock, is something to wait for. In their rendezvous with R.D. Burman, the brilliant composer's most robust and tender compositions are presented in a concert by singer Karthik with Bennet and the Band, and well-known vocalists such as Mohammed Aslam, Gopal Rao, Shwetha Mohan and Kalyani Nair. On stage will be the 18-member Chennai Strings section to provide full and rich orchestral sound. The band replicates an authentic ‘Pancham' feel, with its savvy use of acoustic guitar, ethnic percussion, drums, flutes, saxophone, cellos, violins and violas. The show explores the composer's multi-sided genius in many fevered moods, in genres as diverse as romantic ballads, rock and roll, jazz and Indian classical raags.

This year's Fest, the sixth edition, opens a window to youngsters in 40-minute open-air, under-the-shamiana recitals, just before every main concert of the evening. The music by different Chennai groups includes thematic Carnatic presentations vocal and instrumental, percussion medleys, fusion, world music and the arresting songs of A.R. Rahman.

For tickets

Tickets for all shows may be purchased online at www.hindu.com/novemberfest and www.indianstage.in. For reserved seating (ticket denominations Rs. 1,200 and Rs. 950), please call our helpline at 90030-16954. Tickets for all shows will be available at all outlets of Landmark and at the venue from November 8.

Individual tickets are priced at Rs. 1,000, Rs. 750, Rs. 500 and Rs. 250. Season passes are available for Rs. 6,000, Rs. 4,750 and Rs. 3,000.

Presenting Sponsor: Bose; Associate Sponsors: Unitech Ltd, LG Electronics India Pvt Ltd., Nippon Paint, Casio, GRT Jewellers, RMKV Silks; Hospitality Sponsor: Vivanta by Taj - Connemara, Chennai; Channel Partner: NDTV Hindu; Event Manager: Show Space.

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