Shantanu Moitra to play concert for the seventh edition of One World Many Musics: Celebrating Artistic Plurality

Inspired by his travels to regions 17,000 feet above sea level, Shantanu Moitra will play in concert for the seventh edition of One World Many Musics: Celebrating Artistic Plurality

From childhood, music director Shantanu Moitra had a special fondness for the mountains. “I grew up in New Delhi, and would always love to travel during the holidays. We Bengalis have a special connection with the Himalayas,” he says.

After moving to Mumbai and getting involved with Hindi film music, private albums and ad jingles, his passion took a back seat. One day, he decided to take a break, and spend 100 days travelling. The result is a concert, ‘Song Of The Himalayas’, to be held this evening. It will be the seventh edition of the series One World Many Musics: Celebrating Artistic Plurality.

Moitra has conceptualised the event and will lead it. He will be joined by singers Ani Choying and Kaushiki Chakraborty, sitar player Purbayan Chatterjee, flautist Ashwin Srinivasan, guitarist Ankur Mukherjee and keyboardist Daniel.

Moitra says, “The idea was to do 100 days in the Himalayas, but so far I have done only 50. Beginning with Jammu and Kashmir, I travelled to Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and the northern part of West Bengal. In the next leg, I plan to do Tibet, Nepal, Sikkim, Bhutan and Arunachal Pradesh.”

How did the concept materialise? “Initially, the idea was to just take a break and travel. There was no intention of composing music based on my travels, but being a musician, that had to happen. I met my friend Dhritiman Mukherjee, a well-known wildlife and mountain photographer. He knew the terrain and I said we must do it together.”

As Moitra was busy with a few projects, the whole thing took time to begin. He says, “But I didn’t accept any new ones. I discussed my plans with filmmaker-lyricist Gulzar-saab, and he said this was the right time, and not to postpone.”

The areas travelled were mostly over 17,000 feet above sea level. Moitra says, “At those heights, there is no organised music. But the people apply music to their day-to-day lives. They have special flutes and whistles.”

The idea for the concert came from the National Centre for the Performing Arts. Dr. Suvarnalata Rao, head programming-Indian music, had read about Moitra’s travels and approached him for this series.

“That got me thinking,” says Moitra. “The next step was to choose the right musicians, and create music that would go with the theme. I also didn’t want it to be just another concert. So I have decided to add commentary and audio-visual presentations too. The idea is to give the audience a complete experience of the Himalayas.”

The composer instantly thought of Choying. He says: “She is a multi-faceted personality. She’s a celebrated vocalist, a Buddhist nun, monk, philanthropist and Unesco ambassador. I was also keen to work with Kaushiki, who by nature is a rebel who wants to break norms. Her voice takes me to heights which remind me of the Himalayan peaks. So she was a natural choice.”

Moitra chose sitar player Chatterjee because of his fabulous style and musical brain. “As for flautist Ashwin, he has accompanied me in most of my films, and is very versatile.”

Though this is a one-off project at the moment, Moitra plans to make it a series. “It’s a very unique concert, and once I finish my second leg of travel, I plan to do more such shows.”

On the film front though, he has composed music for Wazir and Pink this year, he seems to have cut down on film work overall. “Right now, I am concentrating on my travel, but once through, I shall accept new offers. Jingles have always helped me get my kitchen money, so I will work in that direction too,” he says.

Right now, Moitra is obviously on another high.

The author is a freelance music writer

One World Many Musics: Celebrating Artistic Plurality - Song of the Himalayas will take place at Tata Theatre, NCPA at 8 p.m. today. See bookmyshow for details

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Printable version | Feb 29, 2020 1:21:49 AM |

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