Members of cultural organisation Uttarayan presented the musical soiree, ‘Europe-e Rabindranath’, with twenty hand-picked songs. The programme was held at the main auditorium of Bangladesh National Museum on November 2, marking the 9th anniversary of the organisation.
Rabindranath Tagore was only 17 when he first visited Europe. He travelled to many countries in Western and Eastern Europe on different occasions, at various stages of his life. During his stays in Europe, he wrote poems, diary entries and letters to many people, but his motivation to write songs never faltered. In celebration of their 9th anniversary, Uttarayan took inspiration from Tagore’s travelogues.
The musical evening started off with Prothom juger ushar digangone. The melodious voices of the performers entertained the audience. Noted Rabindra Sangeet exponent Lily Islam spoke on the occasion, alongside Bhashwar Bandopadhyay and Dalia Ahmed.
During his visit to London in June 1912, Tagore stayed with his friend William Rothenstein in his house at Hampstead Heath. It was during this trip that Tagore wrote the song Sundara bote tobo angadakhani. In Rothenstein’s house, he met many literary figures and gave final touches to his translation of 103 poems and songs, which came to be known as Song Offerings, often identified as the English version of Gitanjali.
The musical ensembles led by Himdri Shekhar amalgamated beautifully, especially the song, Shonkocher Bihobolota. “While travelling in Japan the poet was introduced with Japanese martial art Jujutsu,” said Lily Islam. “Later, Takagaki, a Japanese jujutsu expert was invited at Shantiniketan in 1929 and was requested to train the students. This song was sung as the opening song during the exhibition of jujutsu by the students.”
The programme not only focused on the songs Tagore wrote but also revealed his talents as a painter and philosopher. The special guest of the evening, Secretary of Ministry of Cultural Affairs, Dr Md Abu Hena Mostafa Kamal, shared an excerpt of Tagore’s travel to Argentine and his rendezvous with writer Victoria Ocampo. “Uttarayan took us on a pleasant and fantastic trip to Europe through the programme,” he said.
The State Minister for Cultural Affairs KM Khalid, MP, was the chief guest of the programme. “We have not heard much about Tagore’s Europe trips before. So, this has been an enlightening experience. The ministry will extend their assistance as much as possible, in arranging many more such programmes in the future,” he said.
Artist Kanak Chapa Chakma was also present in the audience. On behalf of Uttarayan, Lily Islam concluded the show with an announcement of a workshop to be held from December 10 to 15 by artist Alok Roy Chowdhury from India. She also mentioned that Uttarayan will start their academy at Banani Bidyaniketan from January 2020.