Celebrating a fantastic week of Indian music and dance in Liverpool

July and August have been exciting months here at Milapfest. To round up what’s been happening Director of Milapfest, Dr. Prashant Nayak, looks back at the week that saw Music India, Dance India and Indika come together in the biggest celebration of Indian music and dance we’ve ever had.

“An exciting, magical, inspirational and very productive week just came to an end for Milapfest at the Creative Campus of Liverpool Hope University.  Over 150 musicians, dancers and tutors from ten countries gathered for an intensive and inspirational week of learning and sharing Indian music and dance in the picturesque and pretty campus at Liverpool Hope University. They were here to participate in three unique week-long residential international projects: Music IndiaDance India and the Indika festival.

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Image: Pandit Ranajit Sengupta with members of Tarang at Music India

Music India is an eight day long intensive residential training programme for young musicians of Britain. Primarily focussed on our two national orchestras, Samyo and Tarang, the exclusive retreat offers individual as well as orchestral skills training for the members. The school features some of the best performers and inspiring teachers of Indian music. This year the faculty included Rakesh Chaurasia, Lalgudi GJR Krishnan, Pandit Ranajit Sengupta, Anil Srinivasan and Nisha Rajagopal, amongst others. Each day the school ran from 8am to 6pm and included interactive learning sessions and new compositions. The young musicians attended a concert each night by their tutors. There were also two very memorable Morning Raga sessions with Pandit Ranajit Sengupta and Rakesh Chaurasia.

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Image: Sanjukta Sinha teaching the Kathak advanced class at Dance India

Dance India attracted students from ten countries to acquire advanced training under some legendary teachers and performers. Smt. Kumudini Lakhia, Leela Samson, Priyadarsini Govind, Sujata Mohapatra, Prashant Shah and Anjana Anand were part of this year’s faculty. The dance students, belonging to a diverse age range, began the day with yoga followed by sessions on skills development, technique and choreography. This year, because of the Music and Dance India schools being held together, there were several joint sessions when musicians and dancers came together to explore topics of mutual interest and there were some magical moments in the week!

For example, there was a rare, memorable session, where Lalgudi GJR Krishnan presented an interactive lecture on the music and life of his Guru and father, the legendary Lalgudi Jayaraman with slides, video clips, musical pieces and personal reminiscences. The lecture was enlivened by impromptu dance performances by Leela Samson, Priyadarsini Govind and Anjana Anand, and Lalgudiji’s music performed by Krishnanji and some of our own Tarang members. The evening also marked the launch of a new book on the legendary vioinist by Lakshmi Devnath. It was an evening of rare beauty and artistry.

The two international summer schools ended the eight day residency with an excellent morning session of sharing their work with guests, tutors and parents.

Untitled_Panorama1 Image: Performing at Indika, from left: Gnanasundaram Ayyakan Thesigar, Nisha Rajagopal, Somusundara Desigar.

The two summer schools were underpinned by an eight day long Indika festival, now the largest annual Indian festival of Britain. Uniquely each day presented a concert shared equally between the musicians and dancers, with some amazing new creative and ground breaking performances. The festival was inaugurated by Sangeeta Bahadur, Director of Nehru Centre and Minister (Culture) at the Indian High Commission. The opening day featured a large open air Garden Party in the beautiful Angel Field Garden, with music, dancing, and an Indian BBQ. It was a warm sunny afternoon and we had guest musicians from the Brouhaha Festival as well as our own Tarang and Samyo musicians, plus a lively open air Bhangra teaching session. The first night featured a new musical sound with Rakesh Chaurasia on flute, Anil Srinivasan on the grand piano and Shahbaz Hussain on tabla. This set the tone for the rest of the week!

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Image: (From left) Sangeet Ratna winner Angira Kotal with the judges; Rakesh Chaurasia, Pandit Ranajit Sengupta and Lalgudi GJR Kirshnan

Two very special evenings featured the Nritya Ratna and Sangeet Ratna Awards! These are two new national awards for young musicians and dancers of Britain, where outstanding talents are recognised and given these major awards after live performances that are judged by an international jury. This year’s awards competition was lively and tough and featured twelve terrific artistes. Angira Kotal (Sangeet Ratna) and Apoorva Jayaraman(Nritya Ratna) won the awards for 2013.

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Image: (From left) Sujata Mohapatra, Apoorva Jayaraman, Padmabushan Kumudini Lakhia, Ragini Madan, Padmashri Leela Samson and Prashant Shah

All in all we created, enjoyed and celebrated Indian music and dance for a whole week in the company of wonderful musicians and dancers!

The next Indika festival and summer schools are planned for the last week of July 2014. We would love to invite you to join us in this very special week!”

Prashant Nayak
Director, Milapfest

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