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Bengal-itc Sra Classical Music Festival 2012

Roundtable on “Classical Music in Bangladesh” at Prothom Alo

Discussants at the roundtable. Photo Courtesy: Zia Islam

Addressing the upcoming Bengal-ITC SRA (Sangeet Research Academy) Classical Music Festival 2012, popular Bangla daily Prothom Alo together with Bengal Foundation hosted a roundtable on “Classical Music in Bangladesh” at its office on November 18.

Noted Bangladeshi artistes, music connoisseurs and cultural personalities attended the roundtable.

Composer and music director Azad Rahman said, “Practising and promoting classical music is a must for bringing about qualitative changes in all the genres of music. I am recalling Barin-da (Pandit Barin Majumdar) prior to this festival. Certainly, the initiative that Bengal Foundation has taken is appreciable. And we should all play a positive role in making the festival a grand success. I propose to kick off the festival with the performance of a Bangla Khayal by Bangladeshi artistes, as the nation is proud of its identity. Cultural reporters, who will cover the event, should undergo workshops so that they can evaluate the renowned maestros and their renditions of subcontinental classical music.”

Director general of Bengal Foundation, Luva Nahid Chowdhury, said, “About 100 classical artistes are set to perform at the four-day music festival; among them at least 25 are world renowned. A great passion for music lies in the hearts of the Bangladeshi audience. Around 15,000 classical music enthusiasts have so far registered to attend in the festival. Showcasing 150 years of our cultural history and heritage along with our rich musical legacy, an open exhibition will also be held at the festival venue.”

“Holding such classical music festivals will make the audience receptive to the genre. A few days back, we saw a tremendous response from the Dhaka audience to the performances of world-renowned vocalist Pandit Ajoy Chakrabarty and his daughter Kaushiki Desikan at The Daily Star-Standard Chartered Celebrating Life gala event. It is a matter of great joy that the grandest classical music festival will be held in Bangladesh where world-class classical maestros will perform,” said eminent singer Ferdausi Rahman.

Music connoisseur Mobarak Hossain Khan said, “If a Dover Lane-like classical music festival is held once a year in Bangladesh, Bengal Foundation, especially Abul Khair, will receive accolades. If the classical music tradition is strong in our country, other genres of music will ultimately flourish. In this regard, organisations including Chhayanaut, BAFA (Bulbul Academy of Fine Arts) and Shilpakala Academy have significant roles to play alongside Bengal Foundation.”

“Professionalism is a must in promoting classical music. We have to take that responsibility. Music is the soul of culture. Despite the dismal scenario of classical music in Bangladesh, we have to move forward. Government, corporate houses and of course the media must come forward to promote the legacy. Classical music festivals are on the rise in Bangladesh. I am optimistic that the situation will further improve in days to come,” asserted a Chhayanaut guru Asit Dey.

Chairman of Bengal Foundation, Abul Khair, said, “Bengal Foundation works on diverse cultural mediums. Classical music has not received patronage since the partition of 1947. If Chhayanaut did not exist, songs of Panchokobi would not have reached such heights in Bangladesh over the last 30 years. Music is the lifeblood of the Bangladeshi people. We have taken the initiative of setting up of a parampara-based classical music school where ITC-SRA gurus will teach. We need your support in this regard.”

President of International Theatre Institute (Worldwide) Ramendu Majumdar said, “I would like to emphasise on the role of the media, especially the electronic, that has a tremendous role to play in promoting classical music. At first BTV has to take the responsibility. We have to make other private TV channels understand their responsibilities too. The festival that Bengal Foundation is organising, I believe, will play a pivotal role in taking us to a new era.”

Singer-musician Bappa Mazumder said, “I received little from my father Pandit Barin Majumdar who was an institution of classical music. Once my father asked, 'Why didn't you learn classical music? At least you could play sitar or sarod.' I replied, 'If I practise classical music, no one will know me.' I don't know why I said that. And I think those who are to review or cover the festival must be well versed in classical music. I also advocate for including classical music in school syllabi.”

A Chhayanaut guru, Dr. Rezwan Ali Lavlu, said, “We are appreciating the flowers and foliage of the tree but do not care for its roots. Why classical music didn't flourish in Bangladesh, is a basic question. I think this is for the first time such an interactive session has been held with classical artistes or connoisseurs.”

“I am thrilled about the upcoming music festival. I have spent an important part of my life in Shantiniketan. What I have understood is that an artiste doesn't have any boundary or limit. We hope to watch performances by the best artistes in the festival, free of cost,” said noted Rabindra Sangeet singer Aditi Mohsin.

“The music school that Bengal Foundation will set up should involve noted classical artistes and teachers of Bangladesh alongside ITC-SRA scholars,” suggested general secretary of Chhayanaut, Khairul Anam Shakil.

“Patronage is a major deal. The celebration of Pahela Baishakh has given us a unique identity for which we can take pride. We need to take a cue from ICCR (Indian Council for Cultural Relations) that promotes Indian culture around the world,” said another Chhayanaut guru Anup Barua.

“After Mughal emperors, the Bengali kings and zamindars extended patronage to classical music. Such patronage halted after the end of royalty and zamindari. Then Pandit Jawharlal Nehru urged Indian radio to air classical music for six hours a day. The initiative indirectly helped the genre to be sustained. As our successive governments have paid no heed to the importance of promoting classical music in Bangladesh, Bengal Foundation has taken the responsibility. They deserve sincere appreciation for this commendable initiative,” said sitarist Reenat Fauzia.

A featured performer of the festival, Priyanka Gope, also spoke at the roundtable. Editor of Prothom Alo, Matiur Rahman, joined the roundtable later. The editor received candid appreciation from all the participants of the roundtable for predominantly assisting the Bengal-ITC SRA Classical Music Festival 2012. Managing editor of Prothom Alo, Sajjad Sharif, moderated the roundtable.

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