Jodhpur RIFF turns 10: Here's what to expect from the 2017 edition of the iconic music festival

Vandana Shukla

Oct,05 2017 17:48 30 IST

The brightest moon of the Sharad Purnima night will add to the aural experience as artistes from across the world play musical soirees at the 550-year-old Mehrangarh Fort, in Jodhpur. The Jodhpur RIFF (Rajasthan International Folk Festival), commences its 10th edition on 5 October, to the delight of music lovers who look forward to witnessing a sangam of diverse genres and traditions, from dawn to midnight concerts in breath-taking settings. The festival will conclude on 9 October.

About 350 artistes are set to regale music lovers in the uniquely curated festival with genres ranging from pop, rock, qawwali, Sufi, Indian classical music and folk dances and songs, accompanied by a mind boggling variety of instruments and musical story narration styles.

Rajasthani folk music lies at the heart of Jodhpur RIFF

Rajasthani folk music lies at the heart of Jodhpur RIFF

The chief patron of the festival, Maharaja Gaj Singh II of Marwar, who endeavours to provide a global platform to the folk musicians of Rajasthan, says, “Rajasthani folk musicians are at the heart of Jodhpur RIFF. Their traditions are acknowledged and celebrated at the festival and they benefit from growth and exposure through high-quality international collaborations as well as through our efforts to present them in festivals in India and across the globe.”

Read on Firstpost: As Jodhpur RIFF turns 10, it's a case study in how music festivals in India can be sustained

This year’s highlight is going to be the collaboration between Indian artistes and the Spree Festival (of Paisley, Scotland). The collaborations of the UK-India Year of Culture-2017, which developed close links between the two reputed music festivals, resulted in celebrating cloth-making styles and the musical heritage of the two cultures. The musical threads from the two countries will be woven together in an hour-long performance at Jodhpur RIFF 2017, with Ross Ainslie, multi-instrumentalist and composer,  leading an ensemble featuring fiddle player and composer Angus Lyon, songwriter Blue Rose Code and Hindustani classical and mystical vocalist Smita Bellur with Sindhi sarangi master Asin Khan Langa. The performance, that premieres at the opening concert at Jodhpur RIFF (6 October), will also premier at Spree (13 October).

Another interesting cross-genre project this year is the jamming of Gaelic and Marwari bands Shooglenifty and Dhun Dhora, whose music will be recorded and released as an album in 2018. Bridging a distance of thousands of miles, the collaborative artistes found much in common; the two bands worked together for nearly four years to find stronger bonds binding them in multiple ways. Performing in two minority languages — Gaelic and Marwari —they speak the same musical language. In a live interplay, together they have developed a mischievous improvisational musical kinship — a delight to witness.

The daily programmes at RIFF consist of Dawn Concerts, at Jaswant Thad, against the breathtaking backdrop of the Mehrangarh Fort; the moonlit concerts, without the aid of electronic sound magnifiers, at Desert Lounge at Rao Jodha Park, that last till dawn; the much-loved Interactive Sessions with the performers; film shows based on music; and of course — the RIFF Rustle, the gala concluding event featuring a motley of festival artistes led by a new ‘rustler’ every year to create an impromptu collaborative musical dialogue. This year, Ram Sampath, composer and producer, is going to lead the celebrated Rustle. “I love Jodhpur RIFF and its always a pleasure to work with Divya (Divya Bhatia, festival director and producer) and his team. I’m particularly excited about RIFF Rustle — the Rajasthani percussionists are so good, one has to do very little to get something magical going,” says Sampath.

Before music lovers get immersed in the energy packed carnival of sounds in the concluding Ruffle, a medley of aural experiences is in the offing by artistes from across the country. From the Northeast, RIFF features Sila Mangka and Rewben Mashangwa: the exceptionally talented young Manipuri vocalist Sila Mangka will reveal her talent and unique training in rare Manipuri musical traditions like Moirang Sai and Basok with her group Laihui. Rewben Mashngawa, father of the Naga blues, will join her on stage for a new collaboration.

Not to be missed, is Latin classical guitar player Paco Renteria, who premieres at RIFF in India, expressing his explosive Latino passion with roots in gypsy flamenco, oriental and progressive jazz beats. Paco has performed with artists such as Carlos Santana and Luciano Pavarotti. His original composition “El Mariachi”, was the main theme for the movie Desperado, with lyrics added and performed by Los Lobos and Antonio Banderas.

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Also un-missable are the legends of Rajasthani folk music like Nihal Khan, Babunath Jogi, who sings stories from Indian mythology, Bikha Khan and Multan Khan, living masters of folk renditions of Khamaj, Subah, Sourath, Bhairavi etc., the Kamachya charm with Ghewar, Darra and Feroz Khan and much more.

The festival will open with a qawwali by Shaukat Andaz Qawwal and party, Ladu Ram Nayak and Party of Shekhawati will present the 'Derun Nritya', and 'Agni Bhawani', the traditional fire dance, will be followed by the power packed Dhol Drummers of Rajasthan.

More details on Jodhpur RIFF here.