Indian Classical stalwarts such as Rakesh Chaurasia, Vidushi Ashwini Bhide Deshpande & Pt. Sanjeev Abhyankar to perform at the iconic heritage structure - the Town Hall in Fort, Mumbai as part of this two-day festival on 13th and 14th January, 2024.
The 32nd edition of the prestigious Mumbai Sanskriti Festival, presented by the Indian Heritage Society (IHS), is all set to enthral audiences on 13th and 14th January 2024 at the iconic Town Hall (Asiatic Library) in Fort, Mumbai. Featuring a stellar lineup, the festival opens on 13th January (Saturday) with ace flautist Rakesh Chaurasia's (Flute maestro Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia’s nephew) ‘Confluence - Music for Peace and Harmony’. The following day i.e. 14th January (Sunday) sees Vidushi Ashwini Bhide Deshpande (an acclaimed exponent of Hindustani Classical Music belonging to the Jaipur-Atrauli Gharana) and Pandit Sanjeev Abhyankar's (a Hindustani Classical Music vocalist of the Mewati Gharana) ‘Bhakti Sangam’. Presented by IHS, supported by Maharashtra Tourism, sponsored by Tata Consultancy Services and HSBC, ‘Mumbai Sanskriti’ is curated by Northern Lights.
‘Mumbai Sanskriti’ traces its roots way back to 1992. Born out of a sign-a-petition by Anita Garware, Chairperson – Indian Heritage Society, in 1991 to save the now historic precinct - the Banganga Tank, the Banganga Festival was started in 1992. “While all Mumbai citizens had heard about the Banganga Tank, very few were acquainted with its location, history, and importance, and we felt live music was the best way to raise awareness,” informs Anita Garware. What began as the Banganga Festival by the Indian Heritage Society, has evolved into the widely recognised Mumbai Sanskriti Festival, weaving together architectural and cultural heritage.
“IHS plays a pivotal role in rejuvenating heritage landmark structures in the city. Committed to fostering a continual understanding of Mumbai's history and culture through the medium of music, IHS strives to raise awareness about our rich heritage—what we have inherited—and actively works towards its conservation, restoration, and transmission to future generations,” says Anita Garware. Rooted in the mission of 'Live Music to Save our Heritage,' this year's Mumbai Sanskriti Festival revolves around Universal Peace. The diverse array of instruments, including Flute, Tabla, Mridangam, Percussion, Sitar, Harmonium, Pakhawaj, Guitar, and more, harmonize to create a cultural tapestry.
Heritage must adapt with the changing times,” believes Anita Garware, and that “heritage is held in trust by the present generation to carry forward to the next.” Acknowledging the challenges of classical music appreciation in today's fast-paced world, the IHS team actively engages in expanding the audience base. Efforts include reaching out to colleges, music schools, and educational institutions, leveraging social media, and ensuring a more inclusive cultural experience by keeping entry to the Mumbai Sanskriti Festival free of cost.
Flautist Rakesh Chaurasia who will be commencing his performance with Indian Classical Music, later weaving in elements of Fusion and Folk, imparts, “This platform provides an ideal stage to spotlight Indian Classical Music, an integral part of our cultural heritage. I commend the Indian Heritage Society for this impactful initiative, poised to resonate with a diverse audience and extend the cultural richness of our heritage to as many as possible.” Rakesh Chaurasia will be accompanied by Sridar Parthasarathy on Mridangam, Ojas Adhiya on Tabla, Shikhar Naad Qureshi on Percussion, Sanjoy Das on Guitar, and Ritik Chaurasia on Flute.
The ‘Bhakti Sangam’ by Vidushi Ashwini Bhide Deshpande and Pandit Sanjeev Abhyankar promises to be a true confluence of the devotion embedded in both the artists’ unique styles, gharanas, and of various musical genres like khayal, bhajans, stotras and stutis. This performance will be supported by Ajinkya Joshi on Tabla, Abhinay Ravande on Harmonium, Amar Oak on Flute, Omkar Dalvi on Pakhawaj, Uddhav Kumbhar on Side Rhythm, and will have Avanti Patel as the compere.
“Heritage speaks from frozen architecture as well as from a live tradition such as Hindustani classical music. The Mumbai Sanskriti initiative of IHS beautifully brings them together - frozen music (architecture) and fluid architecture (music),” articulates Ashwini Bhide Deshpande. Adds Pt. Sanjeev Abhyankar, “The aspect of ‘bhakti’ is also as ‘heritage’ as the architecture or classical music.”