The Classic Bagh Festival, a symbol of UK-India creative collaboration, is all set to captivate music and nature lovers in the national capital today
Set within the grounds of Sunder Nursery, Delhi, the Classic Bagh Festival is a unique and intimate festival. Designed as an immersive and environmentally-conscious experience, the free one-day festival (on from 6 am till 10 pm today) has been developed as a site-conscientious response to the luscious green setting of Sunder Nursery and its broader location within Nizamuddin, celebrating Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya’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.
Presented by Jodhpur RIFF and British Council, in association with the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, the festival supports Indian artistes and festival sector professionals impacted by Covid-19. Open to visitors of Sunder Nursery, it hopes to highlight the importance of community and celebrate inclusiveness.
Split into three periods, the festival will open with a lakeside dawn chorus (6-8 am) of vocal recitals from the Hindustani, Sufi, Bhajan, Shabad and Qawwali traditions by singers Smita Bellur and Jasleen Kaur Monga. Later in the morning (8.15-11 am), 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 renowned Qawwali singer Dhruv Sangari Bilal Chishti, followed by a series of classical-Sufi-folk covers by emerging Delhi-based artiste Bawari Basanti. The festival will draw to a close later in the evening (6-10 pm) with an eclectic set—a Jangda recital from the Manganiyar tradition led by Barkat Khan, ghazals by artiste Sraboni Chaudhary and 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.
“British Council works with emerging and established festivals towards the development and economic empowerment of India’s emerging festivals sector through collaboration between India and the UK around sustainability and developing skill sets. Classic Bagh is a special UK-India celebration, which brings together artistes and audiences in a safe environment and supports the festival sector in India as it grapples with the impact of Covid-19,” says Jonathan Kennedy, director, arts, British Council India. “We understand that this is a difficult time for the creative sector, the artistes and the creative professionals. So, in partnership with Jodhpur RIFF and the Aga Khan Foundation, the British Council is reaching out across digital frontiers, from the beautiful Sunder Nursery, in solidarity with the many inspiring artistes in India and the UK to bring an enchanting musical experience showcasing some of the most talented voices in the country, as culture truly connects us.”
Talking about the importance of Nizamuddin, artistic director and creative producer Divya Bhatia says, “Nizamuddin is a very special place from a musical and spiritual perspective. Jodhpur RIFF has designed the festival to acknowledge that legacy, but also to go wider and include lineage or forms or artistes resonant with the spirit of Khusrau’s work while bringing into the spotlight women artistes who enrich and nourish our artistic and spiritual traditions.”
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 has been taken 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.