World Music Day celebrated across Northeast

World Music Day is observed throughout the world on June 21. Though the concept of observing this day is very new in Northeast India, it has picked up tremendously within just a few years and nowadays, a number of events are organized in the region to commemorate the day. The Rattle & Hum Society of Nagaland has been at the forefront of the celebrations as they have been touring different cities of the country in the form of the Handshake concert on June 21 every year. The concert, which kickstarted in Guwahati in 2008, touched international shores this year as 25 top notch artistes from India performed in front of a 10,000 crowd in Thailand.

The list of performing artistes who shared the space with Thai artistes in Bangkok were Pt Viswa Mohan Bhatt, Tetseo Sisters, OFF Band, Zowe Madrigal, Kenei Chale, Zeliang Dance Troupe, Avancer, etc. The handshake concert was jointly organized by the Ministry of Commerce, Government of Thailand and the Rattle and Hum Society with the support of the Government of Nagaland.

“The Handshake concert is a non-profit concert aimed towards promoting music, culture and goodwill among the people of the country through “a handshake at a time”. With the first edition of the Handshake concert being organized in Guwahati in 2008, the event has till now travelled to Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore,” says Theja Meru, president of the Rattle n Hum Music Society.

Besides the handshake concert, all the eight States of Northeast India observe World Music Day in their own ways, but this time around the major draw among them all would be the celebrations organized in Shillong by NEZCC. Held in the convocation hall of the North Eastern Hill University, the show featured artistes from all the States and was undoubtedly one of the best concerts to have been held in quite some while.

The NEZCC North East Music Festival, held as part of the Silver Jubilee celebrations, sought to celebrate the diversity of Northeast Indian culture for it brought together eight stellar performing troupes whose compositions have been inspired by the ethos of the land to a considerable extent. One of the major highlights was the performance by Shillong Chamber Choir, which had incidentally hardly ever performed in their hometown of Shillong before tasting international acclaim.

The other States of the region were represented by a wide spectrum of artists spanning various genres, which included the Omak Komut Collective of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam Bamboo Band, Guru Rewben Mashangva of Manipur, Voices Na Rympei of Shillong, Meghalaya, Riakmaw Musical Band of Mizoram, Nagagenous from Nagaland, Sosium of Sikkim and Chanu Miah & Group of Tripura.

All these performers were a treat to watch as they brought various parts of their life and traditions on stage. While Omak Kamut Collective is led by a pagan priest of Arunachal Pradesh who blended tribal chants with contemporary western beats, Assam Bamboo Band and Nagagenous used bamboo instruments to provide a wide medley of sounds. Voices Na Rympei, which is one of the very few acapella bands in the country, also performed.

Like previous years, Rajib Rana too organized his round of yearly celebrations in Guwahati to commemorate World Music Day. Held at Shradhanjali Kanan, the event saw a number of musicians and bands, including popular Blues rock band Soulmate, performing to a sizeable audience of music lovers.

Herein a brief mention of the history behind the celebrations would not be out of place. A musician himself, the World Music Day celebrations started as a home jam in Rajib’s house wherein musicians of different genres were invited to jam and interact with one another. Keeping with the essence of the day, the thrust of the celebrations is on World Music and a number of folk artistes and experimental bands perform on the occasion. Some groups which have performed in the celebrations in the past includes Jambili – an experimental Karbi folk-metal band that blends traditional Karbi music with western rock, Mushtaq Ahmed on the Dotora, The Lavender Group from Shillong, countless other traditional and folk artistes.

The event slowly expanded and was held in collaboration with NEZCC at their cultural amphitheatre Shilpgram for a few years. An interesting aspect of the entire celebrations is that it is an entirely self-funded effort and the show is held every year on the same, irrespective of whether there is a sponsor or not. “Initially we named the celebrations as Rhythms of the World but gradually, keeping with the changing times we have named it as World Music Day for the last few years. However, irrespective of the name of the event or the availability of sponsors, we will continue with the festival on June 21 every year,” says Rajib, popularly known as Rana.


Posted on July 11, 2012, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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