Singing to the tunes of world music

by Ekatmata Sharma
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The Venice of East became the perfect backdrop for Udaipur World Music festival that brought together global musicians under one roof.  Diverse musical groups with different languages from all over the world connected with one thread of music and mesmerized the audience with a variety of global music at the second edition of Udaipur World Music Festival. Music has no boundaries and it stood true at this festival, as the crowd swayed at all kinds of music like traditional African, Persian, Italian, Cuban, Indian folk and much more. Conceptualized and organised by Seher, spread over three venues in Udaipur; Fateh Sagar Lake, Gandhi Ground and Jagmandir Island Palace, the three day festival was a treat for music aficionados. This edition brought forward first timers like Kabir Café, London Community Gospel Choir and Azam Ali among others, a special treat for the audience.
Ablaye Cissoko & Constantinople (2) singing1
Day one began in the evening at Gandhi Ground with inaugural performance of band from South Africa, ‘Monoswezi’, bringing music from Zimbabwe and Mozambique followed by electro-acoustic group ‘NIYAZ’ from Canada and famed Indian singer Kailash Kher and his band Kailasa astonished the audience with their famed music. The first day set the mood right for the audience with a mix bag of music. Monoswezi band represented musicians and singers from Mozambique, Norway, Sweden and Zimbabwe with a common passion for traditional African music. Their music combined traditional with jazz and modern western music. NIYAZ with its lead vocalist Azam Ali, (Iranian-born, Indian-raised) seamlessly blended medieval Persian poetry, ancient folk songs from countries in the Persian Gulf and Indian sub-continent, with rich acoustic instrumentation and modern electronics. Kailash Kher and his band enthralled the audience with his hit numbers and original compositions.
Kailash Kher (2) singing2
The second day began early morning at Jagmandir Island Palace with vedic chanting by Panini Kanya Mahavidyalaya, followed by Hindustani classical music by Mudhup Mudgal and Armenia and Turkey’s two vibrant cultures blending together by Adana – Vardan Hovanissian and Emre Gultekin respectively. The afternoon saw two beautiful performances at Fateh Sagar Lake with Poetic encounters from West Africa and Persia by Ablaye Cissoko and Constantinople and Indian band celebrating Saint Kabir’s verses with ‘Kabir Café’. Ablaye Cissoko’s played the 13th century instrument Kora, a 21-string bridge-harp of the ancient Manding Kingdom. The sweetness of his tone, the finesse of his melodic lines was a poetic encounter between his voice and instruments like sitar, tombak and violin played by the band members.
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The lively evening was decked up with electrifying performances by world rock band Parvaaz, the peppy South African musical ‘Hot Water’ and the crazy folk fusion band ‘Swarathma’. Khalid Ahmed and Kashif Iqbal’s Pravaaz band from Bangalore was well received by the young audience as they played blend of blues, rock, and psychedelia with Hindi, Kashmiri and Urdu lyrics. Hot Water set the crowd dancing with their African moves and lively music from East of South Africa. Known as South Africa’s most happening band, its lead Vocalist and Guitarist Donovan Copley entered playing his stylish Castrol GTX guitar making the crowd go frenzy.
Niyaz & Azam Ali (4) singing 4Xoliswa Tom dance moves and vocals set the stage on fire. The elements of traditional South African music such as kwela, mbaqanga, sakkie-sakkie, ghoema, maskandi and kwasa kwasa with folk, blues and indie-pop rock set a perfect combination of dance and music. Swarathma took over with visually electric, high-energy stage presence, with its rustic and rooted folk tunes with western sounds. It instantly connected with the audience with its topical socio-political and cultural based lyrics like ‘Beta Sweater Pehno’. They brought together diverse musical styles and influences from rock and reggae to folk and classical music creating music for the masses. This Bangalore based band mingled with the audience and threw in surprise elements with their music. They enthralled the crowd wanting for more till the end. The third day morning was Sankeertanam in Carnatik style by Bombay Jayashri and songs from Middle-East churches by Fadia Tomb el Hage with Maria Makhoul.
Hot Water (1) singing5
The afternoon was thoroughly enjoyed by the audience as Switzerland based Yilian Canizares performed Brazilian songs on Afro-Cuban rythms. She played the violin and sang at the same time, making her a seamless performer. Her style reflected her various influences with shades of jazz, classical music and cuban music, and jazz. The last performance at the Fateh Sagar Lake was by Indian Classical Fusion Band ‘Advaita’. The band from Delhi mesmerized the audience with the striking blend of Indian Classical vocals and western music. The music was enjoyed by the audience as they played Hindustani classical with rock. From the smooth, polished husky tone of the Western Vocalist to the deep and powerful delivery of the Hindustani Vocalist, the music of Advaita was further elevated by the synthesis of guitars, keyboards, drums, the tabla and the exotic drone of the Sarangi.
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The last three performance of the festival at Gandhi Ground was attended in large numbers by Udaipurites and tourists. The evening began with Italian band ‘Officina Zoe’, trance therapy music of the “taranta”. It’s the most known Italian musical group of “pizzica tarantata”, an exciting rhythm from Salento Area in the deepest south of Italy. The ancestral rhythm of Salento soul was exciting and touching, therapeutic and hilarious. The group induced dance and obsessive movement in the audience with their vocals and musical instruments like flutes, diatonic accordeon, guitar, mandola and harmonica. The six musicians have sparked off the revival of the Pizzica-Pizzica, one of the oldest and most vibrant types of rhythm and traditional dancing in Salento. The closing act was by first-ever performance in India by ‘London Community Gospel Choir’. Lead by Reverend Bazil Meade, the choir made audience dance on their fusion of gospel with funk, jazz and reggae music. As a new kind of music for India, the choir was adaptable and flexible as they produced dynamic melodies with rich harmonies. It had funk-flavoured gospel flair, swing-beat, rhythm and blues, traditional and soulful arrangements, with invigorating choreography and vocal gymnastics. They also sang Bob Marley’s hit numbers like One Love and Three Little Birds, involving the audience and making them sing along. The choir regularly graces many of the UK’s greatest stages such as Wembley Stadium, the Royal Albert Hall and the Glastonbury Festival.
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The festival was three day indulgence in different kinds of music from all over the world. The 2017 edition of the electrifying Udaipur World Music Festival created new landmarks in music as it was more illustrious and bigger this time with 150 artists from over 16 countries all brought together on one platform.
Photo credit – Ankush Dewesar & SEHER

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