Under one roofA series of art festivals is lined up for enthusiasts in the months to come. Jazzmandu is right around the corner, so is Photo Kathmandu—an international photography festival that is going to be held for the first time in Nepal. The Nepal Music Festival will be held in November and the Nepal Literature Festival is all set to take place too. A new addition—and the opening act to this list—is The Gharana Music Festival, which starts from October 8.
A series of art festivals is lined up for enthusiasts in the months to come. Jazzmandu is right around the corner, so is Photo Kathmandu—an international photography festival that is going to be held for the first time in Nepal. The Nepal Music Festival will be held in November and the Nepal Literature Festival is all set to take place too. A new addition—and the opening act to this list—is The Gharana Music Festival, which starts from October 8.
The festival is being organised by Gharana Music Foundation, a not-for-profit cooperation established in order to promote classical music from around the world in Nepal. According to Daniel Linden, the president of the organisation and an American classical guitarist (based in Kathmandu), the name of the organisation—and the festival—comes from the South Asian heritage of Gharana. The term is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘griha’, which means house. According to an article published in ITC Sangeet Research Academy’s website, the concept of a gharana gained prominence in the nineteenth century, in India, when “the royal patronage enjoyed by performers weakened” and that the “performers were then compelled to move to urban centres.” But “to retain their respective identities, they fell back on the names of the regions they hailed from. There, even today, the names of many gharanas refer to places.”
The Gharana Music Foundation’s website states that the name has been borrowed in a “broad sense”. According to Linden, the idea is to make the recently established foundation and its first festival as inclusive as possible. The foundation’s website states that the intention is of “promoting classical music traditions from around the world as well as the study of those traditions.”
Guitarist Ana María Rosado, guitarist Rupert Boyd, Cellist Laura Metcalf, guitarist Paul Cesarczyk and guitarist Brendan Evans are the international musicians scheduled to perform during the festival.Local artists Rabin Lal Shrestha—tabala player—and Salil Subedi—didgeridoo player and performance artist—will also be performing. Subedi will be facilitating a workshop during the day of his performance on October 10. The artists will also be collaborating with Linden and flutist Sunil Pariyar.
“The combination of didgeridoo, tabla, bansuri and guitar is very refreshing and gives us a lot of room to experiment with new textures,” says Linden. The four instruments have different roots and origins and the sounds they produce are of very unique timbres. “Each of us has a different musical background and we are bringing our artistic experiences and personalities together in an organic way to make something hopefully special for our audiences,” says Linden.
The set list for the four-day festival includes music from several continents and from different timelines. The organisers say that the audience will have the opportunity to listen to music from between the 13th and 21st century. Linden says: “I’m happy that a few artists have chosen to incorporate some Renaissance music into their programmes, because I think audiences might be surprised by how fresh and vibrant this music sounds to our modern ears. Some of the great repertoire of the Baroque era will also be heard, specifically JS Bach.”
The festival will also see artists performing compositions from the Classical and the Romantic eras, including some of Russian composer Tchaikovsky’s masterpieces. There will be flamenco guitar performances and other classical pieces inspired by flamenco.
Along with the concerts, the festival will also be hosting workshops for musicians and music enthusiasts. Most of the scheduled sessions are very specific and primarily focused on technicality. Subjects like Introduction to Right Hand Classical Guitar Technique, A Hands-On Approach to Latin American and Caribbean Rhythms, and Successful Practice Habits for Musicians, for example, are some of the subjects that will be discussed.
Nepal has always been closely connected to Hindustani classical music, but the practice or appreciation of other forms of classical music—from other parts of the world—is almost non-existent here. And because technology has turned the world into a global village, most of the younger generations have started opting to appreciate global pop music, which is more or less similar around the world. So, the kind of response the festival could receive is uncertain. But Linden is very hopeful that things will work out. And he cannot stress more on how important it is to make-possible such activities. He says: “Everyone doesn’t have to listen to Mozart while they eat lunch every day, but the more possibility there is for exposure in terms of diverse, substantial forms of art and music, the more creative possibilities we will see emerging, and it is always a positive sign when arts are flourishing in society. And I do believe there is truth in the connectedness we can experience through music in general.”
Linden says the foundation will continue to work to promote classical music even after the festivals closing. Apart from making the festival annual, the organisation also wants “to start presenting individual concerts and educational programmes throughout the year.”
And it is not just about promoting classical music alone either. The organisers of the festival hope that the workshops and the performances will influence and inspire younger Nepali musicians to broaden their horizons. Linden says that the primary objective of the foundation is to “help promote the expansion of musical possibilities here and facilitate the flow of creativity both within Nepal and in terms of Nepal’s relationship with music communities internationally.”
He says: “I think we can help create spaces, in an intellectual sense, where musical ideas can flourish and concepts that seem unattainable can become a reality.”