Music festival to be held to celebrate inclusivity

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In an attempt to highlight the importance of community and celebrate inclusiveness, a music festival on Sunday will offer a day-long experience of Hindustani classical, sufi, folk, and qawwali music at the Sunder Nursery here.

Presented by JodhpurRIFF and the British Council, in association with the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, the event titled “Classic Bagh Festival” promises to be a “a unique and intimate festival” headlined by artistes like Smita Bellur, Jasleen Kaur Monga, Ustad Saeed Zafar Khan, and the Warsi Brothers.

“Designed as an immersive and environmentally conscious experience, the free one-day festival has been developed as a site-conscientious response to the luscious green setting of Sunder Nursery and its broader location within Nizamuddin, celebrating Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya’s vision of pluralism and kindness, and the legacy and contribution to Hindustani music of his favourite disciple, father of Qawaali and Urdu literature, Hazrat Ameer Khusrau, festival organisers said in a statement.

The festival strives to engender an atmosphere of inner quietude, peace and a calm and a gracious respect for nature; the new normal for the future. It hopes to highlight the importance of community and celebrate inclusiveness, it added.

Split into three periods, the festival will open with a lakeside dawn chorus (6 am-9 am) of vocal recitals from the Hindustani, Sufi, Bhajan, Shabad and Qawwali traditionsnby singers Smita Bellur and Jasleen Kaur Monga.

Later in the morning (9.30 am-1.30 pm), in the heritage monument-straddled garden north of the amphitheatre, a short set by the Langa Ensemble will flag off the session, followed by Delhi’s own renowned qawwali singer Dhruv Sangari Bilal Chishti’ followed by a series of classical-sufi-folk covers by emerging Delhi artist Bawari Basanti.

The festival will draw to a close later in the evening (6 pm-10 pm) with an eclectic set – a special Jangda recital from the Manganiyar tradition led by Barkat Khan, ghazals by emerging artist Sraboni Chaudhary and soul-stirring performances by renowned masters Ustad Saeed Zafar Khan, now the Khalifa of the Dilli Gharana, and Qawaal Bachchey Warsi Brothers, performing in Sunder Nursery’s amphitheatre.

With Holi just around the corner, a special focus on Rang’ will also transcend through the evening’s repertoire, organisers said.

Noting that the last year had been a difficult time for the creative sector with the pandemic pushing everyone within the four walls of their homes, Jonathan Kennedy of British Council India (BCI) said the festival would reach audiences globally online as well.

Classic Bagh is a special UK-India celebration which brings together artistes and audiences in a safe environment and supports the festivals sector in India as it grapples with the impact of Covid-19. We understand that this is a difficult time for the creative sector, the artists and the creative professionals.

So, the British Council will reach out across digital frontiers, in solidarity with the many inspiring artists in India and the UK to bring to audiences an enchanting musical experience showcasing some of the most talented voices in the country, as culture truly connects us, the BCI director said.

Organisers added that extra care is being taken to design the festival experience from a COVID-19 safety point of view, with mandatory masking, socially distant seating and capping seated audiences to less than half the capacity of the amphitheatre for the evening performance.

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