Fiesta The ‘November Fest' is back in Chennai, with seven concerts from three continents. Baradwaj Rangan

True to its mission of showcasing diverse musical genres, the The Hindu Friday Review November Fest will feature – in its opening concert titled ‘Lotus' – Mandolin U. Shrinivas performing with yangqin player Liu Yuening from China. The artists played together for the first time in Singapore, where they alternated between leading and improvisational following. This concert, only their second time together, will feature compositions created by Mandolin U. Shrinivas exclusively for the fest. This concert is an attempt to bridge the musical cultures of two of the most ancient civilisations and two of the fastest growing modern nations. The artists will be accompanied by Vijay Ghate (tabla) and V. Selvaganesh (ganjira).

This tandem of two stringed instruments (the yangquin is a close cousin of the santoor) will give way to two rich voices. ‘Saha-gaan' will feature Vasundhara Komkali , one of India's leading vocalists and wife of the late Pandit Kumar Gandharva, in concert with her daughter Kalapini . The duo will dwell on the musical format of khayal, with compositions in various ragas and also branch off into other semi-classical forms such as thumri, dadra and bhajans from the saint poets of north India. The artists will be accompanied by Sanjay Deshpande (tabla) and Vyasmurthy Katti (harmonium).

A tribute

More vocal magic arrives in the form of a tribute to Lata Mangeshkar, which will focus on her most popular songs and the ones that made the most impact on people. The concert is named after one of the singer's biggest hits – ‘Ajeeb Dastan Hai Yeh' – and the performers ( Sadhana Sargam , with others) take on the daunting challenge of making these immortal melodies, so deeply entrenched in the nation's musical consciousness, sound fresh and alive again. A highlight of this concert is the presence of the noted voice-over artist Harish Bhimani, who will anchor the show and provide anecdotes about different aspects of Lata Mangeshkar's career.

After the nightingale of India, the Fest will feature a singer, songwriter and slide guitarist from Australia, Jeff Lang . His latest album has been described as “a batch of brand-new, reconditioned, rust-removed, freshly ventilated, instinct-driven musical conversations between sleep-deprived, cheaply-clothed, (mostly) freshly-shaven, (partially) clean-living, flinty-eyed gentlemen wielding precision instruments with all due care and respect.” At least a few of these qualities – primarily, “instinct-driven musical conversations,” for this artist is known for working without a set list, channelling the energy of each night to shape completely unique performances – will spill over into ‘Down Under Blues,' where Lang will be accompanied by Bobby Singh , the internationally renowned tabla player.

This performance is staged with the support of the Australian High Commission.

Next up, a group from Germany that takes its name from an 18{+t}{+h}century Spanish philosopher, Pablo Minguet, who tried in his writings to make the fine arts accessible to the masses. The Minguet Quartet , which is among the most popular younger string quartets in the world, has the same intention. In their concert ‘Across the Ages,' the ensemble will perform classical, romantic and modern music, promoting the latter by premiering numerous 21{+s}{+t}century compositions. This performance is being staged with the support of Goethe-Institut/Max Mueller Bhavan, Chennai, and Germany and India 2011-2012: Infinite Opportunities.

From decorous classical music to ‘Wild Beats,' a concert featuring Dulsori and Ha Yong Bu , courtesy InKo Centre, Korea Foundation and Korea Arts Management Service. Dulsori aims to rekindle the spirit of ancient Korean festivals on the modern stage, breaking the barriers between players and audience with a performance where the rhythms of percussion will form the framework for enchanting vocals and dynamic choreography. The latter will be enhanced by the improvisational dance of Ha Yong Bu, which has captured the imagination of virtuoso artists of different traditions, is described as free and unfettered, like the wind and water, at once fusing and deconstructing time and space.

Finally, the Fest will feature the duo Zeb and Haniya , described as “among the most innovative musicians in Pakistan,” in their first live performance in India. ‘Lahori Blues' is a concert with a truly global sound. Zeb and Haniya's songs in Turkish, Dari, and Pashto are set to music influenced by the classical tradition of the Indian subcontinent, Latin and West African grooves, American folk and blues. As they describe it, “Their music speaks to a shared base of human experience while evoking the rich and textured soundscapes of West Asia.”

It's not just these seven concerts from three continents.

This year marks a watershed in the evolution of the The Hindu Friday Review November Fest because it travels this month to four other South Indian cities – Hyderabad, Coimbatore, Bengaluru and, for the very first time, Kochi. In all, the Fest will feature 20 concerts by 14 groups from six countries around the world. For the discerning music lover, is there a better place to be?

The sponsors for the event are: Title sponsor: Bose, Associate Sponsor : HIRCO, Nestle-Sunrise, GRT Jewels, Tata Indigo Manza, United India Insurance, Colgate Sensitive Pro-Relief. Hospitality Partner : Vivanta by Taj Connemara. Event Manager : Showspace. Channel Partner : CNN IBN.