BENGALURU: If it weren’t for the pandemic, the Swara Samrat Festival would have gone ahead with its ninth edition as usual: An in-person four-day festival held in an auditorium in Kolkata. But this year, instead of doing away with the concept altogether, the organisers have chosen to expand their reach by opting for an online festival to celebrate Indian classical music and dance.
They have worked with an audio and visual team who shot 36 performances in Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Pune and Kolkata. In October, they shot for four days in Kolkata and one day each in Delhi and Bengaluru. They will shoot for one day each in Mumbai and Pune in November. These will be streamed on their website, swarasamratfestival.com.
Usually held over four days, the festival will go on for four months this time. Sarod player Indrayuddh Majumder, who has organised it with his parents – Sarod maestro Pt. Tejendra Narayan Majumdar and Hindustani vocalist Dr Manasi Majumder – says two performances will premiere on each Sunday between Nov. 1 and Feb. 28. “Indian classical music season usually spans these four months.
So we are utilising the entire winter season and facilitating our global audience to witness the best of Indian classical music and dance from the comfort of their homes,” says Indrayuddh. The 36 performances will feature musicians such as Kaushiki Chakraborty, Bickram Ghosh, Kushal Das, Ulhas Kashalkar, N Rajam, Rajendra Gangani, Mysore Manjunath and Mysore Nagaraj, Pravin Godkhindi, Jayanthi Kumaresh and Rukmini Vijayakumar.
Kumaresh and Godkhindi, who are both city-based musicians, shot their jugalbandi performance for the festival in an empty Chowdiah Memorial Hall. Kumaresh, a veena musician, says, “This is a time when artistes who perform live on stage are confined to their homes, music students aren’t able to go to gurus’ homes to learn lessons, and people are worried about tomorrow. We need something like this to uplift us, to carry our tradition and music forward, and to spread positivity.”
Bansuri artiste Godkhindi calls the concept of taking a digital route to continue the festival a commendable effort. “The pandemic caused a long gap in performances. So this festival provided a golden opportunity for musicians to go back to stage and do what they’re best at. I enjoyed the experience,” he adds. Through this event, the organisers also hope to raise funds for professional musicians and dancers whose livelihoods have been affected by the pandemic. A portion of the ticket proceeds will be used to support them. (Tickets (`99–`999) are available on the festival’s website)
The festival also includes a contest called the SSF Championship, which will be held in 14 categories of Indian classical music and dance. The top three performances in each category will be broadcast on the festival’s social media platforms from Dec. 1 - Feb. 28. The winners will also be given performance opportunities in the upcoming seasons of SSF. “This pandemic has been demotivating for young artistes. But all of them can stay at home and work on their training through this,” says Indrayuddh. To register, check the website.
Stars from the city
Rukmini Vijayakumar: Nov. 29
Mysore Manjunath: Jan. 24
Mysore Nagraj (with his brother Mysore Manjunath) : Jan. 24
Pravin Godkhindi : Nov. 1
Jayanthi Kumaresh (jugalbandi with Pravin Godkhindi) : Nov. 1