Acknowledged as one of the most interesting music festivals in the world, Jodhpur RIFF will be held from October 13 to 17, 2016. The festival offers an experience of rustic Rajasthani music in amalgamation with global roots music, in a royal setting, with the blue city of Jodhpur as the backdrop, under moonlit sky. For many years now, Jodhpur RIFF has been like a musical pilgrimage attracting leading artists and connoisseurs of music. An international platform for Rajasthan’s folk musicians, Jodhpur RIFF gives them an opportunity to showcase their repertoire. Over 250 Rajasthani musicians and around 100 others participate in the festival. Jodhpur RIFF also features rare Rajasthani folk instruments, and interactions with masters of the folk traditions.
Speaking on the significance of Jodhpur RIFF, the patron of the festival H H Maharaja Gaj Singh II of Marwar-Jodhpur said,“The Rajasthani folk musicians are at the core of Jodhpur RIFF. It is important that they feel a sense of pride and dignity, a sense of home and are able to present what their peers and elders consider authentic. At the same time, they realise that there are opportunities for them, as artists in their own right, to create and to collaborate with exemplary musicians from across Rajasthan and around the world. Jodhpur RIFF gives them both; this is why festivals like Jodhpur RIFF are important.”
Vicitors can experience Rajasthan’s tradition at the Dawn Concerts and the Desert Lounge at RaoJodha Park. Started as an experiment, the Desert Lounge has become a success due to its natural setting. The festival concludes in style with RIFF Rustle – the largest impromptu collaboration of artists performing at the festival. Every year, the festival appoints an artist as the ‘rustler’, who rustles up musicians from the festival to participate in this performance in pairs, quartets, or altogether. Apart from the customary performances, this year’s Jodhpur RIFF will bring the traditional storytelling forms of Rajasthan and their links to music under the aegis of its ‘Interactive Session’ series. It will also introduce audiences to the wind instruments of Rajasthan.
Divya Bhatia, director, Jodhpur RIFF, elaborated, “There are some new aspects to the festival this year, such as storytelling and some workshops. We try and bring in a new cultural or musical element or two, every year. It keeps us on our toes and keeps the festival fresh for the repeat visitors. As we enter our 10th year, we feel confident that we can continue to innovate and experiment, and bring about the best that Rajasthani folk has to offer, along with some of the most exceptional artists of the world.”
Rajasthani artists: Among the artists to feature at the festival, four legends of Rajasthani music will be presented in its special “Living Legends” series – Lakha Khan Mangainyar and Kadar Khan Langa (Sindhi Sarangi and vocals), Pempa Khan Manganiyar (Shehnai and Murli), and Sawan Khan Manganiyar (Sufi). These artists will present some of their best work, rarely heard or performed live. Other artists include Chiranji Lalji and Shamsuddin (Maand), vocalist Anwar Khan Manganiyar, master musicians of the Kamaycha Ghewar and Darra Khan Manganiyar and others. Among the younger artists, Jodhpur RIFF will see the new Dhun Dhora group as well as young masters like Asin Langa and Butta Manganiyar in concert.
Jayateerth Mevundi: One of the finest vocalists to emerge from the Kirana Gharana of Dharwar region, Jayateerth Mevundi is a master in the Santvaani (words of the saints) and Daasavani (words of the devotee) musical traditions of Karnataka and Maharashtra.
Sondorgo: Sondorgo is a band from the interiors of Hungary, playing lesser known, traditional and popular tunes of the Serb-Croatian communities living along Danube, coupled with gypsy and Balkan tracks from elsewhere. They play 17 instruments and styles of music.
Davy Sicard in concert: Originally from the remote island of La Reunion, but now based in France, Sicard’s music is a folk form ‘Maloya’ which is a unique amalgamation of African slave chants and rhythms, unique traditional instruments, and contemporary European instruments. A master of modern ‘Maloya’, Sicard’s music is about universal themes such as slavery and reunion.
Robust – a Jodhpur RIFF special: It is a Jodhpur RIFF percussion special featuring master percussionists of Rajasthan in collaboration with Ben Walsh. Walsh is celebrated as one of Australia’s most accomplished percussionists. Here, for the first time, he will meet with Rajasthani master percussionists.
Maru Tarang: An Australian-Rajasthani music collaboration of Jeff Lang and Bobby Singh from Australia; Asin Langa and Bhungar Manganiyar from Rajasthan. At Jodhpur RIFF 2016, Maru Tarang will presents work from their first album “Blue City” and give a sneak peak into their upcoming work.
Bixiga 70 in concert: Bixiga 70 is as one of the most widely sought after groups in contemporary instrumental music in Brazil. These musicians together produce a contemporary sound that mixes Brazilian and African influences, including Samba and Reggae with a little electronica, carimbó and ethio-jazz. Other elements pulled from the travels of Bixiga’s 10 members include Cumbia from Colombia, Malinké drumming from Guinea and Cuban blaxploitation riffs.
The festival has been endorsed by UNESCO as a “Peoples’ Platform for Creativity and Sustainable Development”.