“Music is a piece of art that goes in the ears and straight to the heart”. From past two years, the beauty of Udaipur is enhanced by the Udaipur World Music Festival (UWMF). Music lovers around the world flock to the beauteous City Of Lakes to experience the thrilling sounds of various artists. This year was marked with the second edition of the festival with 150 music artists from over 16 countries that united together to present a music that was beyond the barriers of language or genre of music.
Sponsored by Hindustan Zinc in association with Wonder Cement and Rajasthan Tourism, the Fest was conceptualized and produced by SEHER. It was a three-day event which unfolded in two phases each day; from 3 pm to 5 pm in the afternoon on the side of the scenic Lake Fatehsagar where two or three artists of different genres played for the audience and the second phase at the Gandhi Ground which commenced at 7 pm each day. It was indeed a glorious segment for Udaipur which was a great dais for the artists to showcase their music; raining ecstasy for the revelers who came to see the fest.
The Day One: When ‘Bam Lehri’ stole the show!
The fervor that ran through the audience by the performances of the various artists on the first day was a sight not to be missed. The first day was marked by diverse music genres performing on a single stage at Gandhi Ground. As it was commenced excellently by the musicians from Mozambique, Norway, Sweden and Zimbabwe, the band called them “Monoswezi”. As we met them backstage after their performance, upon asking about their experience after playing for a totally different audience, their response was, “It was a great experience for all of us and we were obliged and happy to play for such an enthusiastic crowd”.
The next performance following Monoswezi was an Iranian American Singer Azam Ali with her band Niyaz who introduced the people of Udaipur to the Electro Sufi Music. A Sufi dancer named Tanya accompanied them who danced on the rhythms and impeccable vocals of Azam Ali as she recited the poem (Aurat) of an eminent Urdu poet ‘Kaifi Azami’. She sang in Persian and Urdu language and her music was packed with immense peace and tranquility.
Their music is an epitome of the fact that music is a universal language; not requiring human languages to convey their message.
The final performance was by the very famous Indian Sufi Singer Kailash Kher with his band Kailasa. They, with their power packed performance, set the stage on fire and the audience was at the apex of energy and enthusiasm. They played some of their famous tracks concluding with their much famous song ‘Bum Lehri’.
The Day Two Afternoon: The Reincarnation of Saint Kabir’s Couplets
Completely mesmerized by the previous day performances the star-struck audience gathered for the second day afternoon performances at the Lake Fatehsagar. The performance began with Ablaye Cissoko from Senegal who collaborated with the Constantinople Ensemble from Canada for the first time in India and that too in Udaipur! Their instruments were vernacular and produced eclectic music that invoked the feeling of the true rhythms. It was definitely a ‘must listen’ form of music.
Next to them, commemorating the couplets of the Indian Saint Kabir was the band Kabir Café. They were much admired by the people of Udaipur. People from different countries and cities of India came to listen to them. As we ran talking to the main vocalist of the band Neeraj Arya, he revealed about his affinity towards the writings and teachings of Saint Kabir. The entire band is quite influenced by the teachings of the Saint and follows them as well. They sung their favorite track as well; based on the very famous couplet of Kabir “Moko kahan dhoonde re bande, mien to tere paas mien…… Naa mandir mien naa masjid mien, naa kaabe kailas mien….. Khoji hoye turant mil jaun, ik pal ki talash mien…… Kehat Kabir suno bhai sadho, mien to hoon vishwas mien”
The band also narrated and described the meaning of each of the couplets.
The Day Two Evening: The Knights of HotWater
The evening could not have been more beautiful, as the orb of night rose in the sky and electrifying music of the Indian Band Parvaaz started at the Gandhi Ground. The captivating vocals of Khalid Ahmed and Kashif Iqbal maddened the crowd with their music.
Following them was the band ‘HotWater’, which is a South African World Music band. The band’s eclectic music of traditional South African sound, mixed with a bit of folk, blues, and indie-pop rock was utterly loved by the people of Udaipur. They were a group of enthusiastic singers, dancers, and musicians whose mixed genre compelled people to dance on their tracks. It was indeed one of the best performances of the day.
The second day of the UWMF was concluded by a high-energy performance by Bangalore-based folk/fusion band, Swarathma. The lead vocalist Vasu was very passionate about singing for the audience of Udaipur as he chatted with us before their performance. In his words, “We are quite delighted to play on such a platform and for the people of Udaipur. It is going to be a great experience.” He with his upbeat lyrics fascinated the crowd; “Betaa sweater pehno….” being the most loved track of the evening from the band Swarathma.
The Day Three Afternoon: Like No Other- ‘Advaita’
The third and the final day started with a unique music of the Swiss-Cuban musician Yilian Canizares. The band played Afro-Cuban rhythms and Jazz renditions with Yilian playing the violin. Yilian chatted with us and seemed to be very enthralled with the response of the audience. The genre was new to the people of Udaipur but was received with utmost love.
After Yilian, the band Advaita, an Indian fusion band based in New Delhi performed for the people of Udaipur. Their classical based vocals amalgamated with the winter breezes on the side of the Lake Fatehsagar rendered a picturesque view. Concluding, they played their famous track which was also recorded with ‘Coke Studio’ and ‘MTV Unplugged’ and received acclamation from each and every person seated at the venue.
The Day Three Evening: An Evening of the Gospel Music
The stage was all set for the final day performances at the Gandhi Ground. The Italian band Officina Zoe initiated the event by their breath-taking music. The band traversed the boundaries of language as they sang in Italian and the crowd cheered for them relentlessly.
Dhruv Ghanekar commenced the second performance with vocals in Bengali and Bhojpuri. The crowd loved them and grooved with them as Druv’s guitar strings reached the pinnacle of instrumental music. The artist was accompanied by a vocalist who sang in several languages and a rapper. His performance ended with his much-acclaimed track ‘Revolution’ that made the crowd cheering “Once More!! Once More!!”
London Community Gospel Choir gave the festival an apt spiritual culmination. Their music included aesthetic pleasure; they are a musical ensemble of singers who were highly praised by the lovely people of Udaipur. The crowd went zany dancing when the choir sang one of Bob Marley’s famous songs ‘One Love’. This indeed was the best performance of the day. The crowd was singing and dancing with the choir and was a sight to be remembered.
As the anchor announced the dates of the Udaipur World Music Fest 2018 the crowd cheered with utmost joy as they looked forward to another great event coming their way!!
The people of the UWMF
The Udaipur World Music Festival 2017 housed thousands of people from different parts of the world. We witnessed different colors and patterns, different languages and attires as we meandered through the attendees of the UWMF. People from Indian cities like Bengaluru, Mumbai, and Delhi had specially come to attend the fest. The fest was indeed a treat for the music lovers and for all the people who love to explore the limits of the art. We met some people from Israel and Philippines who were in Udaipur and were awestruck to watch bands like of Ablaye Cissoko and with the music of Kabir Café. Let us have a glimpse of the attendees of Udaipur World Music Festival 2017.
Photo by: Siddharth Nagar