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Folk Yeah: British Council Announces Folk Nations Project

Folk Nations, a new initiative by the British Council, will see collaborations between folk musicians from the UK and South Asia over the next three years.

7 Feb, 2013


Indiecision Staff

Over the last year, we’ve seen several international musical and cultural collaborative projects take off successfully. The Goethe-Institut and Max Mueller Bhavan have worked with Indian and German artists on SoundCamp, a musical residency program. The Indo-German Urban Mela in 2012 also saw several such projects and idea exchanges take place in five cities. Oz Fest saw a whole bunch of awesome Aussie musicians perform in India. Karnivool played three gigs in India in a week, and Gotye is performed in Delhi last night (pictures).

The latest international music exchange program involves the British Council. The organisation has just announced the inception of Folk Nations, a three-year program focusing on folk music in South Asia. The British Council has pinpointed folk music as an area of importance, both in the UK and India, where artists have reworked traditional musical structures and styles, and developed more contemporary arrangements to fit newer sensibilities. English acts such as Mumford & Sons (pictured) and Laura Marling are part of a resurgence of folk music in the country, while India’s folk culture is almost unparalleled, with musical forms such as the manganiyar, ghazals, sufi and baul music asserting their presence strongly. Several Indian indie artists and acts have also stuck to folk music roots, with Swarathma, and Papon and The East India Company being at the forefront.

Over the course of the next three years, Folk Nations will see the British Council host and curate collaborations, residency programs, and idea exchanges. These include a massive musical theatre production, a collaboration between Raghu Dixit, UK folk act Bellowhead and kathak dancer Gauri Sharma Tripathi, which will tour India later this year. Assamese folk vocalist Papon teamed up with Scottish singer-songwriter Rachel Sermanni, and their album project, Troikala, will also release as part of Folk Nations this year. Several other interesting projects are also in the offing, and what we hope to see over the course of the program are a lot of international collaborations, as well as what are sure to be some stunningly-produced performances.

Here, have a Bellowhead live video.

Folk Nations will kick off in India at the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival this week. The musical section of the festival includes several acts from the UK, and will also include collaborative sets. On February 8, all the music performances at the festival will be curated by the British Council. On the lineup are Scottish composer Ross Ainslie, (who collaborated with multi-instrumentalist Karsh Kale, Papon and Carl Barat on the finale of Season 2 of The Dewarists), Welsh avant-pop duo Trwbadour, tabla legend Arif Khan and British sarod virtuoso Soumik Datta (pictured outside).

Watch a music video for ‘The Minstrel’s Tale’, from The Dewarists Season 2 finale below.

After the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival, Folk Nations’ next project is a residency program in Kolkata from February 10 to 17. Folk musicians from the UK, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh will chill together for a week and learn from each other’s cultures, and possibly even develop new projects. Participants include Scottish fiddler Patsy Reid, Pakistani vocalist Shahid Hamid, singer-clog dancer Hannah James, Bangladeshi dhol player Shafique Mia, and Advaita sarangi player Suhail Yusuf Khan. Like most residencies, this one will end with a collaborative performance in Kolkata.

You can catch the premiere Folk Nations project in India at the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival on February 8, at Cross Maidan, from 7pm onwards. Check out the lineup below.

7.10 – 7.55pm: Trwbadour
8.05 – 8.45pm: Soumik Datta and Arif Khan
8.55 – 9.35pm: Ross Ainslie
9.35 – 10:00pm: Ross Ainslie and Patsy Reid

More from Folk Nations as we hear it.

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