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Festival features resplendent Indian fine arts

The fact that Indian fine arts is far superior to the gyrations and noise of Bollywood will be brought to the fore at the Auckland Arts Festival in March.

While The Manganiyar Seduction, a unique group of musicians will present a concert on March 10, 11 and 12 at the Civic Theatre, Varanasi musician Rajendra Prasanna will present Spirit of India, a shehnai and flute concert with three other musicians on March 15 at the Auckland Town Hall Concert Chamber (both on Queen Street in the Central Business District).

Kerala born Producer-Director Roysten Abel created The Manganiyar Seduction (and 100 Snake Charmers) for the International Film Festival held in Delhi 2006.

It features 43 musicians seated in a ‘magic box’ of 36 red-curtained cubicles arranged in four horizontal rows, an inspiration from the Hawa Mahal, the ‘Palace of the Winds’ in Jaipur, Rajasthan.

Since its debut, the show has become a major attraction for organisers of art festivals in a number of countries, followed by raving interviews.

It was little wonder therefore that the Auckland Arts Festival Artistic Director David Malacari was determined to bring the performers to New Zealand.

“The Manganiyar Seduction is one of the hottest tickets on the world circuit,” he said, addressing a press conference prior to the Christmas holidays.

He described it as a ‘very special show’ and a “wonderful way to introduce New Zealanders to great music.”

“It would also provide a rare chance for New Zealand’s Indian community to experience great art from their homeland,” he said.

Mr Malacari said the concert would begin with the lighting of a single cubicle and the first singer rendering a song, followed by another and so on, creating a dramatic and astounding build-up of musical instruments and voice.

According to The Irish Independent, “this sequence would have the effect of a gospel Mass or a slow-building rave: a joyous, communal experience of the seductive power of music.”

For further details about the two concerts and other events of the Auckland Arts Festival 2011, contact Auckland Arts Festival Publicist Emma Willis on (09) 3740331 Email: emma.willis@aucklandfestival.co.nz

The Manganiyar Seduction

The Manganiars and Langhas belong (mostly) to the Muslim community, devoted to music and pass on the art to ensuing generations. They sing songs about Alexander the Great, the local Maharajas and past battles in the region. Manganiars have survived for centuries on the patronage of wealthy merchants in caravan towns, particularly Jaisalmer where there is a thriving community. Despite being Muslims, many of their songs are in praise of Hindu deities and celebrate Hindu festivals such as Diwali and Holi.

The Manganiar performers traditionally invoke the Hindu God Krishna and seek His blessings before beginning their recital. Manganiars play the ‘kamayacha’, a bowed instrument, emitting an impressive deep, booming sound.

Pandit Rajendra Prasanna

Pandit Rajendra Prasanna hails from the renowned ‘Benaras Gharana,’ and is a master of flute and shehnai. Groomed by his grandfather Pandit Gauri Shankar and father Pandit Raghunath Prasanna, he is known for a unique blend of fluency and melody in his recitals. His systematic ‘badhat’ with an aesthetic approach has been one of the main qualities of his presentations.

Pandit Prasanna was the first flautist and shehnai player to visit Pakistan after the partition for a music concert in 1986. He is a recipient of several awards and citiations. He has performed extensively in India, Asia, Middle East, Europe and Russia.

Pandit Prasanna participated in the Grammy Award, winning music video organised by Pandit Ravi Shankar at the Royal Albert Hall, London in 2002 in memory of George Harrison. He received a Grammy Award Certificate in 2004.

Producer Director Roysten Abel

Born in Kerala, India, Abel is a graduate of the National School of Drama (1994). He completed an apprenticeship with the Royal Shakespeare Company and established the Indian Shakespeare Company. He created The Manganiyar Seduction for the International Film Festival in Delhi in 2006. He is currently working on The Manganiyar War, interpreting the Mahabharata through music.

His recently completed ensemble features 2000 folk artists at Red Fort, Delhi.

He is in the process of setting up an international centre for contemporary and traditional performance, due to open in 2012.

What: The Manganiyar Seduction

Organiser: The Auckland Arts Festival

When: March 10 to 12 at 730 pm

Where: The Civic Theatre, Queen Street

Tickets: From $37.50 to $77.50

From: www.buytickets.co.nz

Contact: (09) 3573355 or 0800-289842

What: The Spirit of India

Shenai & Flute concert by Rajendra Prasanna Organiser: The Auckland Arts Festival

When: March 15 at 7 pm

Where: The Concert Chamber, Auckland Town Hall

Tickets: From $42.50 to $57.50

From: www.buytickets.co.nz

Contact: (09) 3573355 or 0800-289842

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