Jodhpur RIFF: Improvisation in tune with originality

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Published: September 15, 2019 1:24:01 AM

In its 13th year, the Jodhpur RIFF promises to be bigger and better with a number of unique performances lined up.

Jodhpur RIFF, Rajasthan International Folk Festival, musical saga, Mehrangarh Fort, Irish musicians, Armenian musical instrumentsThe festival’s 12th edition, which will take place from October 10 to 14.

The Jodhpur Rajasthan International Folk Festival (RIFF) is not your average music festival. With a strong legacy and solid improvisations year after year, the five-day musical saga has attained a cult status, not just in India, but globally, which is why we see people from all walks of life transcending the barriers of race, religion and culture to converge in their love for folk and all things rustic.

What makes this festival different from a dozen other high-end musical concerts and tours is the way it is crafted — ensuring that originality is not lost in transition. Widely acclaimed for its rich sound stage, presented in the picturesque setting of the Mehrangarh Fort, the Jodhpur RIFF this year promises to be a larger-than-life offering in its versatility and otherwise.

The festival’s 12th edition, which will take place from October 10 to 14, promises a couple of things that will be seen for the first time ever. For instance, Rajasthani and Irish musicians are set to present their original composition titled Citadels of the Sun, to provide audiences a glimpse of the rich, rustic roots of both the nationalities by way of fusion. Besides, Armenian musical instruments would be used in tune with a Swiss-based orchestra — a first for the festival.

“Originality and freshness are among the key reasons why audiences come to Jodhpur RIFF. This year, we have unusual collaborations, which bode well with our aim to introduce new forms of world roots music to our audiences,” says Divya Bhatia, director of the festival.

There are a couple of more firsts that the festival organisers have planned for this year. Women will lead the Jodhpur RIFF Rustle this year. Cuban drummer and percussionist duo Yissy Garcia and Marypaz will get the ball rolling.

The Jodhpur RIFF has also partnered with Mumbai-based Poetry Local this year, whose own research on Rajasthani poets helped them develop a new project that will go on floors this year. Manav Kathputli and some women vocalists from Rajasthan and qawaals from Badayun have been roped in, with the amazing Bir Singh, singer-cum-songwriter from Punjab, slated to do what he does best — conquer audiences’ hearts.

“Now that Jodhpur RIFF and its ethos are better understood in the country, many people make very apt suggestions and recommend fantastic musicians, greatly contributing to our research. We feel very fortunate,” says Bhatia.

In its 13th year now, the Jodhpur RIFF has evolved into India’s premiere roots music festival, a not-for-profit, genre-independent event led by Bhatia, under the aegis of the Mehrangarh Museum Trust, Jodhpur.

HH Maharaja Gaj Singh II of Marwar-Jodhpur is the chief patron of the festival, while Sir Mick Jagger, the front man of rock band The Rolling Stones, is its international patron. Every year, Bhatia and his team of volunteers travel across the country to scout for talents that can be showcased at the festival. The total number of artistes slated to perform this year are over 250. The festival has previously been endorsed by the Unesco as a “people’s platform for creativity and sustainable development”.

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