NEWS & NOTES
Darbar festival has made impressive strides
Among the many Punjabis, Biharis, Marwadis and South Indians who migrated in the decades after India’s independence to settle down in remote corners of the world, was the family of Bhai Gurmit Singhji Virdee who migrated to Kenya. There, in the 1960s, he made a livelihood out of teaching the tabla, which he had learnt back home in Punjab. From Kenya, he and his family migrated to London and settled there. Having trained hundreds of students, the maestro passed away a peaceful and contented man, leaving behind a legacy of students and a mission to propagate Indian classical music. His son Sandeep Virdee renounced a successful law practice and took on the baton of a cultural impresario to curate the Darbar Festival, which over the last eight years, has grown to be Europe’s largest festival for Indian classical music. This year’s edition, held in the prestigious environs of the Southbank Centre, featured some of the finest talent from Indian classical music.
Spread over four tightly packed days, the festival stands as a nerve centre in bridging cultures. In addition to concerts of Hindustani, Carnatic and dhrupad, on the platter were exclusive percussion solos, lecture demonstrations, fringe shows, and academic discussions, all in one place. The entire festival was sold out almost five months ahead with every performance witnessing packed halls spilling over its seams. Taking up varied themes like ‘Where are the women?’ and ‘The betrayal of the Saraswati Veena’, the festival also threw up some serious pedagogic concerns relating to the classical arts.
Sandeep Virdee is a bit of a tyrant when it comes to programming Darbar. “I can’t but go for the best. We are not driven by popularity charts or recommendations”, he says. This year Darbar introduced over half a dozen Indian classical musicians to European audiences by debuting them. All that mattered were the purity and essence of the art form, being delivered in the best possible way, according to him.
Click here to read more ...