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Indian musicians dominate Warsaw Cross-Culture Festival

Posted on Oct 01, 02:21PM | IANS

Whether it was Anoop Mishra, an exponent from the Benaras gharana, or Jyotsna Srikanth, a Carnatik-genre violinist, or Raza Khan, a rustic Punjabi Sufi singer from Amritsar, Indian musicians hogged the limelight during the just-concluded 8th Warsaw Cross-Culture Festival here. All three Indian musicians won the hearts of Warsawians with their amazing talent.

Mishra got ample opportunity to showcase his mastery of light classical music. Rarely do people in Poland get a chance to appreciate the intricate feelings of old ragas. Most of the artists who come from India are generally instrumentalists. Jyotsna Srikanth followed that tradition with her superb control over this western instrument, which now has become an essential part of Carnatik music. However, the maximum applause was reserved for Raza Khan for his magnificent rendering of Sufi qawwalis. For many people it was a novel experience and they seemed to be in a trance.

"In my interaction of 30 years with Indian music, I never had such a great experience which I felt with Raza Khan's style of singing. Raza Khan and his group will achieve great heights in the short term. This artist has a very rich voice which is fabulously suitable for Sufi qawwalis. We are lucky that we have found him and invited him for this festival, which is his first international experience," Festival Director Maria Pomianowska said.

Pomianowska has always been an Indophile. Her love for Indian music started in the early 1980s when she went to India to learn the sarangi from Pandit Ramanarayan and Ustad Sabri Khan. It is because of her dedication to Indian music that in the past she had invited Hari Prasad Chaurasia, a great flute player, and Vishwa Mohan Bhatt, the inventor of the Mohan veena, to the Warsaw Cross-Culture Festival.

"We need Indophiles like Pomianowska to promote Indian art and culture in Poland. She is a great asset for us as we are projecting India's soft power in Eastern Europe, particularly in Poland, these days. The time has come for us to open a culture centre in Poland as we have done in many West European countries. I have suggested to the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) to look into this matter for their future plans," Indian Ambassador Monika Kapila Mohta told IANS.

The Warsaw Cross-Culture Festival has become an important landmark in the history of music festivals in Eastern Europe. Ever since Poland joined the European Union in 2004 it has become a major destination for world-renowned singers and musicians. Here the great exponents attempt their very best to get invited. Somehow Indian artists have been luckier than others as they regularly participate here.

(Surender Bhutani can be reached at suren84in@yahoo.com)