Indian arts, global venue - Demand for tradition

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  • Published 25.07.06

On the invitation of the vice-president of Greece, sarod player Abhijit Ghosh will be performing at Thraki Ethnic Festival 2006 near Alexandroupolis later this month.

At the beginning of August, Kathak exponent Sushmita Banerjee will hold shows in Tokyo as a Unesco guest.

Shyam Sunder Goswami, an emerging talent of the Kirana gharana who has performed at St Severin Church in Paris, is looking forward to singing in churches all over the world.

Indian classical music and dance today has more listeners across the globe than ever before. And while more venues are opening up to Indian artistes and fusion projects (often East-West ventures) are happening dime a dozen, there still is a demand for the pure traditional.

After performances in France, Switzerland and other places in Europe, Goswami claimed that the audience was familiar with Indian classical music and made requests for specific ragas. ?Contrary to what most musicians singing abroad believe, the people are not averse to listening to ragas in their original form with extended alaps and vistars.?

Traditional Indian music is what the Japanese want, observed Sushmita Banerjee, who has done a lot of fusion and experimental dance-based theatre in the US, Thailand and Germany. Trained in the Lucknow gharana of kathak and a student of Pandit Birju Maharaj, she recalled that during the Nippon Festival (1992-93), she had been ?especially requested to present kathak in its original richness?.

So this time, too, Banerjee is taking her accompanists with her and has designed ?special ornaments and glamourised colourful costumes to heighten the appeal of traditional kathak?. To commemorate Hiroshima Week, Banerjee?s presentation will depict ?a Phoenix-like revival?.

Abhijit Ghosh, of Senia Maihar gharana and a disciple of Pandit Tejendra Narayan Majumder, has performed in world music festivals in Bangladesh, Malaysia and South Africa. Like the classical musicians of yore, he will let the ambience of the venue, 14 km outside Alexandroupolis, in Greece, dictate his choice of raga. ?When we are abroad, we generally try to uphold our traditional music,? he said.