Aiyushman Dutta details the celebrations that marked World Music Day across the North East
Although the concept of observing World Music Day on 21 June is quite new in Northeast India, it has picked up tremendously in the last few years and nowadays, a number of events are organised 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 in the country in the form of the Handshake concerts on June 21 every year. The concert, which kickstarted in Guwahati in 2008, reached Bengaluru this year, after successful concerts in Delhi and Mumbai.
All the eight states of Northeast India observe World Music Day in their own way, but this time round, the major draw among them was the celebration organised in Dimapur by the North East Zone Cultural Centre (NEZCC). Held in the IMC Hall at Dimapur with an impressive line-up of artistes, this was undoubtedly one of the best concerts the region has witnessed in quite a while.
The evening began with a scintillating performance by Naad Brahma, a unique fusion project of sitarist Subhankar Hazarika that involves a blend of north and south Indian classical, folk, rock, pop and jazz with the support of numerous acoustic instruments. Subhankar let his music do the talking in this one. Accompanied by his father Hem Hazarika, a pioneer of the sitar in the region, and supported by musicians from Kolkata, the deft blending of Hindustani ragas with Assamese folk and a bit of blues and jazz at Subhankar’s hands truly provided for a magical experience. The other artists included Khasi rock band Snow White, Naga fusion project Abiogenesis, rock band Alice in Wonderland and the North East Express – an experimental project of band members of Parikrama.
In another part of Dimapur, the Mind Blowers Club organised another round of celebrations under the banner of the North East Summer Festival. Held in the Town Hall on June 20 and 21, the grand finale of the seventh edition of the Nagaland Art Fusion contest was held on the first day. The North East Art Fusion competition, which was organised the next day, saw Assam-based rock band Filharmonix being crowned as the winners.
World Music Day was observed in Shillong for the first time by the Rocksi group in the form of the Cloud Confluence festival. The fest, which was held in the state’s central library auditorium, saw 26 groups participating, including the likes of Street Stories, Colours, Dossers Urge, 11th Hour, etc.
In Imphal, the celebrations coincided with the 50th birthday of renowned Tangkhul folk balladeer Ruben Mashangva, who along with his son Saka performed some of his popular numbers at Hotel Imphal. Haraba, frontman of local rock band Fringe and Devadutta and Yumnam Sammi of Shallow River, also performed on the occasion.
Like previous years, Rajib Rana too organised his round of yearly celebrations in Guwahati to commemorate World Music Day. Held in Shilpgram, the event saw a number of musicians and bands performing to a sizeable audience of music lovers. The thrust of the celebrations in Shilpgram was on World Music and a number of folk artistes and experimental bands performed on the occasion. Mention may be made of the performance of Jambili – an experimental Karbi folk-metal band that blends traditional Karbi music with western rock, and that of Mushtaq Ahmed on the Dotora. The Lavender Group from Shillong was also a huge favourite among the crowd.