Kolkata is often referred to as the cultural capital of India and music holds a special place in the lives of the people in the city. From Rabindra Sangeet to Baul folk music, the musical variety has always appealed to the country and the world. And it’s here where for last seven years musical ensembles from all over the world come together to spread peace and exchange culture. Sur Jahan, previously known as Sufi Sutra, is one of the biggest music festivals hosted in the city, and for its seventh edition, it brought together renowned performers all the way from Sweden, Russia, Denmark and the Czech Republic.
The three-day melodious affair also gives local artistes a chance to engage in creative exchanges with performers around the world in the beautiful setting of the iconic Victoria Memorial.
Organised by Banglanatak dot com, a UN-recognised city-based social enterprise that uses music to bring together diverse global cultures, has collaborated with bands from over 20 countries. Held during the first week of February every year, this time it starts February 3.
In the evening, audiences can enjoy soulful musical performances by popular Grammy awardee Swedish folk band Ale Moller Quartet, which has been instrumental in expanding the borders of Scandinavian folk music and popularising it. Among other international bands, the festival will also host BraAgas from Prague, known for its traditional medieval songs from Southern Europe, the Mediterranean, the Balkans and Scandinavian regions. Their album Tapas won the Andel 2009 award, the Czech version of the Grammy. The band’s unique performance in traditional attires is often believed to transport one to an earlier era, giving listener a first-hand experience of the vulnerable traditions of the region.
WATCH: Snapshots from Sur Jahan 2017, the world peace music festival in Kolkata
Another highlight of the 2017 music fest is the Ellika Solo Rafael, a special group in which musicians from Sweden, Senegal and Mexico come together to take the audience on a melodious ride criss-crossing across the globe. Reviving old Soviet tunes and songs, Russia’s Otava Yo band has its roots in pagan traditions of Slavonic tribes and even other nationalities. Otava Yo plays their music in a vigorous manner laced with a good dose of humour, using traditional Russian instruments.
Rich in cultural dichotomy and traditional music, the festival aims to celebrate diversity and uniqueness. Beyond music, the carnival also highlights various rural handicraft artistes and hosts thematic exhibitions as well. Among local bands, Lakkhichara, Surma Dohar, Arshi Nagar, Paridhi and Wrong Tuli will be collaborating with their foreign counterparts to organise workshops.
The event is free for all, and will hosts performances by Indian bands like Punjab Qawwali, Bauls of Bengal and Folks of Bengal. While the workshops and musical exchanges are scheduled for the morning, the musical extravaganza will be held during 6-9pm.
Sur Jahan will be held at Ground 1, Mohor Kunja, (opposite Academy of Fine Arts) near Victoria Memorial, during February 3-5, 2017.