In its 12th edition, Jodhpur RIFF is merging global and local folk music

A performance from a previous edition of Jodhpur RIFF

A performance from a previous edition of Jodhpur RIFF   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement


Prepare for some Irish and Indian fusion, Vikku Vinayakaram’s ghatam ensemble, and rising Hindustani classical vocalist Pushkar Lele, among others

Over the years, the Jodhpur RIFF festival has established itself as the go-to event to catch Rajasthani and global folk music. The 12th edition, to be held at the Mehrangarh Fort in Rajasthan (from October 10-14), will see over 1,000 aficionados sitting on mats in the big courtyard, getting up to dance with the khartal players as they walk off stage.

To producer and festival director Divya Bhatia there’s a certain spirituality to it all, right from the early morning RIFF Dawn — featuring bhakti music — to the Jogi music in the afternoon and the Sufi artistes taking over later on. “I find that all traditional artistes, or root musicians, we like to say, invest their spirit into their music, bringing a deep, wholesome and vibrant presence to their performances,” he says.

Glocal in Rajasthan

Featuring over 250 artistes from all over, while staying focussed on Rajasthan’s artiste communities, Jodhpur RIFF was established by Bhatia in 2007, soon after he finished an eight-year stint co-organising Mumbai’s Prithvi Theatre Festival. The forthcoming edition brings together interesting global collaborations in exclusive performance formats.

On October 11, Ireland’s folk musicians, Sarah E Cullen (fiddle), Martin Coyle (bouzouki) and Paul Cutliffe (uilleann pipes, whistles), will join sarangi artiste Asin Khan Langa and multi-instrumentalist Rajasthani folk artiste, Sawai Khan Manganiyar, for Citadels of the Sun, which took over nine months of planning and two months of “creative discussions”. The penultimate concert performance will be the RIFF Rustle (led by composer-drummer Yissy Garcia), where an appointed rustler draws in other artistes for a spontaneous jam.

Challenges aplenty

Despite its decade-long run, Bhatia notes that the biggest challenge still remains “managing and meeting the expectations of the artistes”. This year, there are seasoned voices such as Sumitra Devi, Manganiyar musicians, Malian kora veteran Ballake Sissoko, Hungarian folk band Muzsikas, Los Angeles-based DJ-producer Jose Marquez, rising Hindustani classical vocalist Pushkar Lele, and legendary ghatam artiste Vikku Vinayakram, among others.

It is also no surprise that even Jodhpur RIFF – a non-profit project in collaboration with the Mehrangarh Museum Trust and Jaipur Virasat Foundation – have to think about survival and sustainability. “Sometimes being a not-for-profit comes with its own challenges. It is no secret that we are subject to the same market forces, the same cultural changes that all Indian festivals deal with,” he concludes.

Donor passes at ₹5,000 (per day) and ₹12,500 (for the full festival). Details:

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The copy had earlier wrongly stated that it was the 13th edition
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Printable version | Dec 12, 2019 1:00:14 AM |

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