Revisiting the legacy of Concert for Bangladesh
The Concert for Bangladesh, a pair of benefit concerts organised by former Beatles guitarist George Harrison and Indian sitar player Ravi Shankar, were held on August 1, 1971, at Madison Square Garden in New York City, to raise international awareness of, and fund relief for refugees from the then East Pakistan, following the Bangladesh Liberation War. Expanding on the 50-year legacy of the concert, Samdani Art Foundation (Dhaka) and UBIK Productions (London) collaborated to host a mixed reality musical event, titled 'Concert from Bangladesh'. The initiative is supported by the British Council Digital Collaboration Fund.
'Concert From Bangladesh' will be aired via Pioneer Works' online platform today at 6 pm in Bangladesh. It will tour through Yorkshire Sculpture Park (Wakefield) as part of Yorkshire Sculpture International and Pioneer Works (New York City). Additional events will take place in association with Chisenhale Gallery (London), at Leeds City Varieties Music Hall (Leeds), and Srihatta Samdani Art Centre and Sculpture Park (Sylhet).
The expansive three act sonic voyage will begin with renowned Baul singer Arif Baul accompanied by instrumental virtuosos Nazrul Islam, Saidur Rahman, and Sohel. The second act comprises of a piece composed by Enayet and Nishit Dey, exploring the shared musical language between Nazrul Sangeet, classical raga, and 90s music. The act blends cutting edge electronic production and arrangements by Enayet, Provhat Rahman and Adittya Arzu, also known as Siaminium, with classical raga and Nazrul Sangeet by Meerashri Arshee and Moumita Haque, Bansuri flute by Jawaad Mustakim Al Muballig and Nishit Dey on sitar. The third and concluding act has performances by Bangladeshi hip hop duo Tabib Mahmud and 12-year-old 'Gully Boy' Rana.
Co-Founder and Trustee of the Samdani Art Foundation (SAF), Rajeeb Samdani said that the concert will encompass the globe throughout 2021 and the following year. It will also include live performances and talks. "The concert is an opportunity to present our country and its potential to the world. We have come a long way in a short span of fifty years, and music is a great way to express it all," he said.
"This is the first time that we are exploring virtual reality. We are excited. We hope to push boundaries with our talents," added Rajeeb Samdani.
The organisers have commissioned acclaimed British-South Asian artist Shezad Dawood to create a virtual reality stage for the concert. It is co-curated by Diana Campbell, Artistic Director of the SAF, with music producer and artist Enayet Kabir, assistant curators Ruxmini Choudhury and Shoummo Saha.
"We selected musicians with great potential for the event. Their music touch base with history and the present. Although we call it a concert, it is an art film that will be screened. Through rigorous research on history and communicating with the musicians, we chose the locations as shifting backgrounds to the performances. We intend to transcend the essence of our land to the world," said Ruxmini Choudhury. The shifting virtual sets will walk the audience through the streets of Dhaka, introduce the historically vibrant literary and intellectual hub Beauty Boarding, transport people to the riverbanks of Gorai River in Kushtia and Somapura Mahavihara in Paharpur, Naoga. "The screening sites are also chosen to include the diaspora community living abroad. We added subtitles in English as well as the Sylhet dialect," Ruxmini added.
An album and ethically produced merchandise of 'Concert From Bangladesh' will be available online on Pioneer Works. All proceeds from the event will be distributed between the performing musicians and Bangladeshi charity organisation, Friendship, which offers healthcare for climate change refugees and promotes women's rights in Bangladesh.
The concert is free to watch via registration through - https://pioneerworks.org/programs/concert-from-bangladesh
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