The genesis of the name of the festival has a story of its own. Kathak dancer Sangeeta Majumder named this festival as ‘Strings N Steps’ after her ‘Kathak-Hawaiian Guitar Duet concept’, a performance with the Hawaiian guitarist Neel Ranjan Mukherjee. The innovative idea of presenting Kathak with a stringed instrument was perceived alongside the birth of ‘Strings N Steps International Festival of Indian Classical Music & Dance’, in 2013. From this year, 2016, the festival committee started conferring ‘Strings N Steps Global Award’ to the artistes,, who have made noteworthy contributions in their fields of Indian classical music and dance. Beginning this week, we are introducing a regular column on music and dance, with this report by Prof. Yashpal, exclusively in Different Truths.
With a name synonymous to music and dance, the Strings N Steps festival has become one stop for music lovers from various parts of the world, including India. Since 2013, this festival has been consistent in upholding the aura and tradition of Indian Classical music and dance, in New Delhi. With a remarkable effort, this festival has played an important and pivotal role in bringing the best of Indian Classical artistes not only from different parts of India but also the world.
The genesis of the apt name of the festival has a story of its own. Kathak dancer Sangeeta Majumder named this festival as ‘Strings N Steps’ after her ‘Kathak-Hawaiian Guitar Duet concept’, a performance with the Hawaiian guitarist Neel Ranjan Mukherjee. The innovative idea of presenting Kathak with a stringed instrument was perceived alongside the birth of ‘Strings N Steps International Festival of Indian Classical Music & Dance’.
The inaugural festival day witnessed the performance by Sangeeta and Neel Ranjan with Ustad Akram Khan on Tabla and Zuheb Ahmed Khan on Sarangi Varis. The beginning of a festival that later etched its name on the canvass Indian classical music and dance was made special by a Sitar recital by Padmabhushan Pandit Debu Chaudhuri. He was accompanied by Rashid Mustafa Thirakawa on Tabla. The main aim behind the initiation of this festival was to attract the younger generation towards music and other art forms along with the grassroots level of the society.
Every year, a large number of youngsters become a part of this festival either as spectator and audience or as performers. This festival has a charm of its own and enthralling performers takes on the stage one after the other without break. The aura of Hindustani classical music and dance remains at its best on this two-day festival. The first day of the festival is termed as the International events day and the second as the National events day. While the international musicians render their performances on the first day, the second day consists of performances by national stars in the field of Indian classical music. ‘Strings N Steps’ duet performance remains the common attraction every year in this fest.
This festival venues till date has been Sri Sathya Sai Auditorium and India Habitat Centre, Lodhi Road, New Delhi. The list of eminent personalities, who have performed during this festival include Pandit Debu Chaudhuri (Sitar), Ustad Rshid Mustafa Thirakwa (Tabla), Ustad Akram Khan (Tabla), Pandit Kushal Das (Sitar), Pandit Fateh Singh Gangani (Pakhawaj), Ustad Murad Ali Khan (Sarangi), Zuheb Ahmed Khan (Tabla), Varis Khan (Sarangi), Smt. Malti Shyam (Kathak), Vani Madhav (Odissi), Rajesh Gangani (Vocal), Zakir Akhtar Hussain (Tabla) and Shekhar Ganeshan(Harmonium). Paola Sopranzi a Bharatnatyam performer from Argentina performed during the international events day of the festival in early 2016. Dev Bansraj, a famous vocalist from Canada has been invited to perform as an International artist in the 2017 edition of this festival.
Starting in 2016, the festival committee started conferring ‘Strings N Steps Global Award’ to those artistes of Indian classical music, who have made noteworthy contributions in the field of Indian classical music and dance. The 2017 edition of this festival will be held on March 20, at the India Habitat Centre, and on March 21, at (ICCR) Azad Bhawan Auditorium. The ‘Strings N Steps Magazine’, focusing on Indian Classical music and dance will be launched at this festival featuring Pt. Debu Chaudhuri (Sitarist) Vidushi Shovana Narayan (Kathak dancer), Pt. Tejendra Narayan Majumder (Sarod), Pt. Debashish Bhattacharya (Hawaiian guitar), Pt. Dev Bansraj (renowned Vocalist from Canada), and Prof. Stephen Slawek (Sitarist from Australia).
©Prof. Yashpal Sharma
Photos sourced by the author.
Prof. Yashpal Sharma is the Head of the Department of Music, Punjabi University, Patiala. He is a vocalist of classical music and one of the prime disciples of Pt. Battoo Ji, the renowned vocalist of Patiala Gharana.