Udaipur to host the World Music Festival this weekend

At the Udaipur World Music Festival this weekend, Ginni Mahi’s unrestrained voice will meld with Fado singer Sara Correia’s poignant tunes, and Mame Khan’s haunting folk will jostle with Shnellertollermeier’s brute rock chords

Here, in this City of Lakes, where the morning sun colours marble pillars pink, men in colourful turbans gossip by old stone jetties and flocks of pigeons wheel over latticed parapets, musicians from Europe, Asia and Africa will descend for the fifth edition of the Vedanta Udaipur World Music Festival, conceptualised and produced by SeHeR.

The festival that began as a two-venue, two-day event, now spills over to three days and three venues — Manji ka Ghat, Fateh Sagar Paal and Gandhi Ground — with We Are The World: Unity in Diversity as the theme.

Udaipur to host the World Music Festival this weekend

Sanjeev Bhargava, festival director and founder-director SeHeR (an imaginative initiative in the sphere of the performing and fine arts), first conceived the idea when he visited a festival in Fez, Morocco. Bhargava has been at the helm of festivals — Ananya, Bhakti Utsav and Delhi Jazz Festival, among others — since the 2000s. A student of Pandit Vinay Chandra Maudgalya who trained him in Hindustani vocal, Bhargava prefers to introduce a mix of old names and up-and-coming artistes to audiences, beyond the confines of closed spaces — concerts have been held at venues like Nehru Park and Purana Qila, Delhi. Five years ago, the Rajasthan Government supported his idea to design a thematic festival beyond the capital Jaipur, and Bhargava chose Udaipur for the inherent beauty of its Mewari architecture and its lakeside venues.

Udaipur to host the World Music Festival this weekend

In a telephone interview, he says that he opens the festival to the public free of cost because “why should someone unable to pay not enjoy it? This is an extension of my passion for the Arts. My idea is to democratise culture.”

Udaipur to host the World Music Festival this weekend

Bhargava says that the focus of the festival is to bring together two unlikely musicians, two different sounds and meld them. “I have introduced sarangi players to Brazilian musicians, who have then created their own unique style.” In this pursuit, Bhargava has brought together another unusual line-up this year. “I travel to smaller towns and villages to listen to the real sounds of a region. Sometimes, that’s where the purest form of music comes from. The musicians we’ve invited are not only cultural ambassadors of their genres but also custodians of a rare kind of music.”

At a glance
  • Date: February 7-9
  • Musicians: Over 150 global artistes from 13 countries
  • Details: udaipurworld

The festival will open with a tribute to Mahatma Gandhi on his 150th birth anniversary, and feature among others “19-year-old Dalit singer Ginni Mahi from Punjab, whose music is a revelation; Habib Koite who plays West African blues and who I first heard in Senegal in 2010. It has taken me a decade to bring him here. He is a superstar in his country; music from Kurdistan and Karelian music from Russia are other rare finds.”

Udaipur to host the World Music Festival this weekend

“I listen to their songs over and over again, have a long chat with the musicians and help choose their repertoire. But I don’t curb their creativity. This year, every one of them will address ‘unity in diversity’.”

With a footfall of nearly 50,000, the city’s lovely mix of the rural and urban, and pleasant weather this time of the year, Bhargava promises to have something for everybody at the festival. “If it is literature for Jaipur, it has to be world music in Udaipur.”

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Printable version | Feb 17, 2020 5:17:34 AM |

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