What do Kerala, France and Germany have in common? You might say football, but this week it is Thiruvananthapuram. Thanks to Alliance Francaise and Goethe-Zentrum, the city plays host to a special jazz fusion concert on Friday. Special, because it is the first time that the city's two European cultural/educational institutions are collaborating on a cultural show. Jointly organised by the Alliance Francaise network, the Goethe Institutes and the Bangalore School of Music, ‘Jazz Connect' brings together three musicians: German pianist Uli Lenz, French saxophonist Francois Jeanneau and Indian percussionist Muthu Kumar Varadarajan.
Truly in sync with the idea that music has no barriers or boundaries, this Indo-French-German collaboration is an intercultural music project sponsored by the Elysee Fund. The story of this Fund goes way back to 1963 when the historic Elysee Treaty was signed between the two European nations to reconcile differences and work towards a unified Europe. “The treaty is a beautiful reconciliation between two countries that have a common and painful past,” says Amelie Weigel, Director, Alliance Francaise de Trivandrum (AFT). Pointing to the fact that Europe places lot of emphasis on reconciliation through culture, Amelie feels that in this process, a non-European country (here, India) also has a role to play. Therefore, ‘Jazz Connect' provides a platform for a dialogue between these three nations, albeit from a cultural perspective.
Syed Ibrahim, Honorary Director, Goethe Institute, Trivandrum, agrees: “The basic aim of this project is to bring three cultures together. This can be best achieved through the medium of music.”
And so, we have European jazz with bold, fresh improvisations meeting Indian rhythms at this unique concert.
Both Goethe and AFT are hopeful of more collaborative efforts in the future. “This concert marks the beginning of cooperation between our two centres. Our respective Consuls are participating in the event,” says Amelie, underlining the importance of the occasion. Syed's echoes the optimism and jubilance: “Until such a programme was conceived, we were two organisations working in our own spheres... Now we're a fantastic team.” Good for Europe and Kerala. And good for culture.