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The Classic Bagh Festival – a symbol of UK-India creative collaboration – set to captivate music and nature lovers in the national capital

 Presented by British Council and Jodhpur RIFF, in association with the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, the festival supports Indian artists and festival sector professionals impacted by COVID-19 

  • The festival underlines the British Council’s commitment to Indian artists and festival professionals by enabling access to UK methodology and resources for festival management  
  • Smita Bellur, Jasleen Kaur Monga, Ustad Saeed Zafar Khan, and the Warsi Brothers to highlight the festival featuring classical and spiritual music and poetry 
  • Staging and seating  aligned to COVID-19 protocols and social distancing, with open-air, socially distant seating and mandatory masks 

New Delhi, 17 March 2021:  The Classic Bagh Festival is a unique and intimate festival set within the grounds of Sundar Nursery, Delhi, formerly known as Azim Bagh, or Bagh-e-Azeem. Much like a garden, ‘Classic Bagh’is reflective of a number of values –ecological sensitivity; inclusivity, variety and diversity; qualities definitive to a style or an artist; wisdom in tradition; artists who are emerging strong and are likely to sustain and flower overtime; arts which have already withstood the test of time.

The Classic Bagh festival is conscious of the challenges professional musicians and performers have faced through the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and underlines the British Council’s aim to support artists by bringing them face-to-face with audiences again. Part of the British Council’s Festivals for the Future programme that features a series of UK-India musical collaborations between Jodhpur RIFF, Wales, and Northern Ireland, the Classic Bagh festival reflects support for India’s emerging festivals sector, developing crucial skillsets and strengthening India’s creative economy and art and culture festivals, in partnership with the UK.

Designed as an immersive and environmentally conscious experience, the free one-day festival has been developed as a site-conscientious response to the luscious green setting of Sunder Nursery and its broader location within Nizamuddin,celebratingHazrat NizamuddinAuliya’s vision of pluralism and kindness, and the legacy and contribution to Hindustani music of his favourite disciple, father of Qawaali and Urdu literature, Hazrat Ameer Khusrau. The festival strives to engender an atmosphere of inner quietude, peace, and a calm and gracious respect for nature; the new normal for the future. Open to visitors of Sunder Nursery, the Classic Bagh festival hopes to highlight the importance of community and celebrate inclusiveness.

Split into three periods, the Classic Bagh festival will open with a lakeside dawn chorus (6:00 am-9:00 am) of vocal recitals from the Hindustani, Sufi, Bhajan, Shabad and Qawwali traditions by the remarkable singers SmitaBellur and Jasleen Kaur Monga. Later in the morning (9:30 am-1:30 pm), in the heritage monument-straddled garden north of the Amphitheatre, a short set by the Langa Ensemble will flag off the session, followed by Delhi’s own renowned Qawwali singer Dhruv Sangari ‘Bilal Chishti’ followed by a series of classical-sufi-folk covers by emerging Delhi artist BawariBasanti. The festival will draw to a close later in the evening (6:00 pm-10:00 pm) with an eclectic set – a special Jangda recital from the Manganiyar tradition led by Barkat Khan, ghazals by emerging artist Sraboni Chaudhary and soul-stirring performances by renowned masters Ustad Saeed Zafar Khan, now the Khalifa of the Dilli Gharana, and Qawaal Bachchey Warsi Brothers, performing in Sunder Nursery’s amphitheatre.

With Holi just around the corner, a special focus on ‘Rang’ will also transcend through the evening’s repertoire.

Both morning performance sets will be open to anyone visiting Sunder Nursery, encouraging new audiences to interact with the especially curated music.

Extra care is being taken to design the festival experience from a COVID-19 safety point of view, with mandatory masking, socially distant seating and capping seated audiences to less than half the capacity of the amphitheatre for the evening performance.

About Mahender Bansal

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