Come December and a constellation of world music stars are expected to descend on Kolkata’s horizon for the third edition of the India International Guitar Festival (IIGF). Vasundhara Mahotsav, or the Celebration of the Earth, directed by guitar maestro Debashish Bhattacharya is expected to bring a vibrant trans-cultural experience for all lovers of the stringed instrument to the city.
IIGF, though, is much more than the instrument it celebrates. From December 2 to December 4, ICCR Kolkata (Indian Council of Cultural Research) will host a spectacular line-up of guitar artists from various countries, many performing for the first time ever in India. “The themes of this year’s festival will be lovelessness, celebration of earth and global warming. In the course of my career I have played in all the major guitar festivals of the world. I realised that we did not have any festival here. So I started one”, Bhattacharya told Millennium Post.
Mingling international masters with local legends and upcoming talent, IIGF will present concerts, a guitar competition with scholarship awards and an opportunity to participate in master-classes hosted by IIGF artists. A walk by participants in the Chowringhee area on Nov 29 will also espouse the environmental issues of today.
At the festival, guitar maestro Derek Gripper from South Africa will be seen in a solo performance on Day 1. Gripper is expected to woo listeners with his ability to play West African music traditionally belonging to Kora (African harp) on the Spanish guitar. On Day 2, Bollywood Muses – a homage to legendary composers like Salil Chowdhury, Madan Mohan, S D Burman and R D Burman – will be performed. Debashish Bhattacharya will be performing classic hits on Asher, Hawaiian electric guitar. Events dedicated to the Indian Slide Guitar include a solo by Master Suryadipta Bhattacharya, solos and duets by young maestros of the slide guitar from the Slide Guitar Symphony.
An ensemble of vocalists and instrumentalists from Europe, India and Australia will weave a tapestry of songs, stories and poetry in the presentation, O’ Shakuntala: The Plight of Lovelessness, ending the festival on a poignant note.
Debashish Bhattacharya recently received an international music award, the Songline Award, at the Royal Albert Hall, London from Anushka Shankar. Bhattacharya –considered to be one of the best slide guitarists of the world–-is a Grammy Nominee and a world music awardee (BBC Planet Award). This is his 50th year of playing the slide guitar.