“Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav is about celebrating Indians who contributed to our nation. So, we are celebrating 100 years of Pandit Bhimsen Joshi, and Rani Vijaya Devi – two legends who have contributed richly to Indian culture and helped spread it across the world,” shares Dr. Veena Murthy Vijay, a director at BIAF. The festival will see acclaimed artistes like Pt Ronu Majumda, Pt Parmeshwar Hegde, Smt Ashwini Bhide Deshpande perform.
Talking about curating the festival, Veena adds, “We work around a theme every year, and the line-up is curated accordingly. On the second day, there are young artistes – from ages 13 to 16 – presenting a percussion ensemble. Whatever we are doing now, we need to pass it on to the younger generation. Even if one youth understands why we are doing this, then it all becomes worthwhile.”
Music of the birds
While the first two days focus on Hindustani music, the third day features a novel ensemble presentation, inspired by birds. Called Wings of Melody, it’s a collaboration between renowned veena artiste Dr Suma Sudhindra (also one of the directors of the festival) and noted classical vocalist Manasi Prasad. Lasting 90 minutes, the seven-member ensemble features instrumentalists on the violin, flute, keys, tabla, and percussion. The performance will be supported by a huge LED screen that will display some of the rarest birds, and their videos, and they have woven a story around them through the music.
Talking about conceptualising this unique project, Suma offers, “At the Indian Music Experience Museum, we had done a temporary exhibition called Bird Song. It concentrated on how birds have influenced the music of this country. As part of it, we conceived this programme which is based on Carnatic music, all the compositions for which were freshly composed and put together by Manasi and me.”
She further notes, “It’s a layered programme. There is an oral presentation, music, and also visuals to support it. It’s very meditative. I’m doing something like this for the first time. It was very challenging to visualise it.”