Momtaz Begum, unparalleled folk singer of Bangladesh, has a staggering number of 700-plus albums to her credit, and enjoys a popularity that is unmatched. A member of the Bangladesh Parliament, she remains an avid music exponent. Momtaz will be performing on the big stage of the Dhaka International Folk Festival 2015 tonight (Friday). The artiste spoke to The Daily Star about the festival:
Your expectations of such a large scale folk festival?
Momtaz: Everyone--me included-- is excited about this great initiative. I have high expectations from the festival, and I hope the organisers can live up to them. This festival is a big boost for our folk music.
You have performed around the world, including neighboring India. How do they view our folk music there?
Momtaz: Indian audiences rank out our folk music very high, and appreciate it greatly. Now, through this festival, people all around the subcontinent will get to know the richness of folk music.
How do you think the audience will respond?
Momtaz: I think people will flock to this festival. Bangalees are festival-lovers, and they also have a special place for folk music in their hearts. So there should be a big turnout.
What songs are you performing?
Momtaz: I will do my popular numbers, including the baul, bicchedi and love songs. Plus, I will try and bring in some new elements. Arnob will be performing with me in a few songs. I will also do parts of a pala gaan, something that I used to do long ago.
Any other words?
Momtaz: The first expectation is that the festival be held regularly. I want to make that proposal to the organisers, who I heartily congratulate and thank for this initiative.
PERFORMING TODAY AT DHAKA INTERNATIONAL FOLK FESTIVAL
Paban Das Baul (India)
The rich and melodic musical tradition of India's West Bengal region is given a modern sensibility by Paban Das Baul, a master of dubki (a small tambourine) and a hypnotic vocalist. Synthesizing Tantric Buddhism, Vaishnavism and Sufism, Paban Das Baul has attracted international recognition for his outstanding performances. Paban's collaboration with British guitarist Sam Mills marked one of the first fusions of Bangla music and Western pop music.
Yunnan Art Troupe (China)
Established in 1951, Yunnan Art Troupe is famous in China and other countries because of their composition of multi-ethnic artistes. The troupe has performed at many major international festivals in France, Italy, Australia, Switzerland, Germany, Finland, Sweden, Vietnam and other countries. With unstinting efforts to develop the art of traditional opera and bring it closer to people, Yunnan Art Troupe has gradually formed a distinctive traditional artistic style which is unique in China.
Nooran Sisters (India)
Granddaughters of famous Bibi Nooran, Jyoti and Sultana were trained in Sufi music by their father Ustad Gulshan Mir. Following the tradition of Sham Chaurasi Gharana and Mirasi, Nooran Sisters quickly catapulted into success by staying close to their roots and offering Indians all over the world a chance to hear songs that wrenched thearts to their very roots.
Other performers of the night are:
BARI SIDDIQUE; AJGAR ALIM, JAHIR ALIM & NURJAHAN ALIM; MOMTAZ WITH ARNOB & FRIENDS; NASHID KAMAL