The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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A day for the love of music

A dash of djembe (African drum). A strum of guitar. With a twang of ektara. And schoolchildren sharing the stage with veteran melody-makers. The recipe is ready for Calcutta’s biggest World Music Day celebration.

On June 21, Tollygunge Club — the chosen setting — will swing to strains known and unknown with faces familiar and unfamiliar. “We want to introduce the concept of World Music Day in Calcutta,” says Daniel Kuhn, director of Alliance Francaise de Calcutta, organisers of the show.

June 21, of course, is big in the West, especially Europe. It was in 1982 that Jack Lang, the then French minister of culture, instituted the celebration of music on the longest day of the calendar, which also marked the beginning of the much-awaited summer.

The practice has caught on. In front of every city plaza and village square in France and other European countries today, there would be people singing, playing and dancing in abandon at all hours of the day. “It does not matter if a few false chords are struck or a few notes go off key. Making and sharing music is what the day is about,” explains Abraham Mazumdar, the moving spirit behind L’Atelier de Musique, which will perform on the evening.

While Atelier, Ranjan Prasad and rock band Krosswindz will be the guest performers, the first half of the evening will have schoolchildren belting it out for the winner’s crown. “Invitations have been sent out to all schools in the city, to send their best musical talent. And it does not matter whether he/ she chooses to sing a Tagore number or play a Mozart symphony,” Kuhn smiles.

Some experiments on offer on Saturday evening will be Amar Poran Jaha Chay, the Tagore song, sung with a string chamber orchestra and traditional Bengali folk songs with the world music touch. “We will play music from across the globe,” says Vikramjeet Banerjee of Krosswindz. The band, which calls itself a world music outfit, is happy to be back on the June 21 stage after six years. “We played to a cosy gathering at the old Alliance auditorium in Park Street. But this open-air experience will be closer to the spirit of the day,” Vikramjeet says.

What if Park Street is closed to traffic for a day, and left to musicians to do their thing and for music-lovers to gather, applaud and join in' The day has not come yet, but, as Kuhn says, “Some day... who knows'”

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