Forging Musical Bondshttps://indianexpress.com/article/cities/mumbai/forging-musical-bonds/

Forging Musical Bonds

The people of Azerbaijan may have little more than ancient dusty cultural links with India,but one Indian musician is setting out to change that.

Dr Vasumathi Badrinathan will be the first Indian musician to perform at Azerbaijan’s Mugham festival

The people of Azerbaijan may have little more than ancient dusty cultural links with India,but one Indian musician is setting out to change that. Dr Vasumathi Badrinathan,a Carnatic classical music vocalist and Bharatanatyam dancer of international repute,has been invited by the Azeri government to perform at their first-ever international festival for traditional and sacred classical music.

The ‘Space of Mugham’ is a music festival to celebrate Mugham,one of Azerbaijan’s music traditions. It will be held at a newly inaugurated International Center of Mugham from March 18 to March 25 in the country’s capital,Baku. Dr Badrinathan will be performing a traditional Carnatic repertoire on the final day.

“It’s a great honour as I am the first Indian musician to be invited by the Azeri government. I will be like a cultural ambassador of India,” said Dr Badrinathan. “Mugham is very similar in sound to Indian classical music and they may even have very close roots despite both our countries being so far apart,” she added.

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Dr Badrinathan,also a scholar on Carnatic music,has conducted various lectures on the intricacies of the form. Asked if she will include a lecture-demonstration in Baku,she replied: “My primary itinerary is the performance but I believe that post after this there will be many discussions or forums where I will be talking about Carnatic music. However,since Mugham and Indian classical music are similar,I will be collaborating with some of their artistes. Right now I am not sure how,but it will certainly be very interesting.”

However the cultural interchange doesn’t end with her. Dr Badrinathan’s daughter Sumitra,who performs classical dance,will also be giving a presentation for a few Azeri children.

“I have been performing for 25 years. I initially learnt from my mother Padma Seshadri before going to my guru T R Balamani for refinement,” said the artiste who has performed extensively in Europe and Africa.

Asked about her most memorable performance she said,“Every performance is fresh and different but I especially remember when I went to the Fez Festival of World Sacred Music. I had given an interview on their national television channel and whenever I went shopping people recognised me and asked to have pictures taken with them.”

About her forthcoming trip to Azerbaijan,she said: “I am honoured that they called me and this will be a great boost to Indian classical music,especially Carnatic music.”