Here are 15 of our biggest takehomes from the IGF Festivals at Delhi, Kolkata and Bangalore in no particular order.
BANGALORE INTERNATIONAL CLASSICAL GUITAR FESTIVAL & COMPETITION 2015
1. Bangalore welcoming participants from Chennai.
When we announced that Chennai International Classical Guitar Festival & Competition would be cancelled due to the floods, we gave Chennai guitarists the opportunity to participate in Bangalore. The Bangalore School of Music offered free accommodation to them in their guest rooms. Five guitarists from Chennai made their way down to Bangalore to be part of the festival and to take part in the competition there.
2. The inaugural concert featuring two girl guitarists!
Nandini Sudhir and Anusha Panchumarthi performed solo pieces and a duet, Sonata by Daniel Fortea.
The fact that they had met each other for the first time only a week before, just in time to put this duet together for the concert, was not evident at all from their playing. Bangalore has some serious women guitarists in the making!
3. The realisation that Madhavan Somanathan isn’t just a performing artiste to look out for, but also a great teacher in the making.
Most of the classical guitar community of India has heard of Madhavan Somanathan. He won the first ever Indian national classical guitar competition in 2006 when he was only 14, and last year he became the first Indian guitarist to place at the Calcutta International Classical Guitar Competition with 3rd prize. We knew he is a gifted musician and performer. This year, in Bangalore we realised that he is also a great teacher. He taught all the days he was at the festival, giving great teaching advice in his individual masterclasses and also a very interesting and useful public workshop on “examining and broadening our approach to learning”.
Watch out for this one!
4. Nutavut Ratnakarn donating all his CDs and the proceeds of their sale to relief work for the Chennai flood.
The Bangalore School of Music guitar faculty Poireinganba Thangjam (Len) will be donating the proceeds for flood relief.
5. A fabulous concert by Thu Le followed by her workshop the next day on Stage Presence and Performance Skills
Music teachers can’t help but emphasize the need to practice, and more practice. But in her talk with the students at the Bangalore International Classical Guitar Festival, Thu Le emphasized something more specific, the importance of practicing PERFORMING — which is to remove yourself from the comfort and safety of your bedroom, and practice performing your concert items to others, the exact same way you plan to do on the actual stage. It could be your buddy, your parents and grandparents, your relatives, your neighbours, or even your pet!
6. All the winners of the Banglaore International Classical Guitar Competition 2015 are 18 years or younger!
17-year-old Kabir Dabholkar (1st prize, open category), 18-year-old Nandini Sudhir (2nd prize, open category), Chanakya Saikia (Komrisk most promising guitarist under 18).
DELHI INTERNATIONAL CLASSICAL GUITAR FESTIVAL & COMPETITION 2015
7. Matt Bacon playing his entire recital on a Bigfoot Guitar made by Delhi luthier Karan Singh
Matt showed up in Delhi having discovered just hours previously that he had no guitar to bring…and just 10 minutes before his concert finding a guitar with an oversize neck that suited his big hands, made by Delhi’s own Karan Singh of Bigfoot Guitars!
8. The inspiring poise and professionalism displayed by the Cuerdas Duo
Joey Woch and Norman Villas were delayed in heavy traffic, arrived at the venue late, and went on stage to present a wonderful concert having taken less than 5 minutes to warm up and get ready.
9. Pirai Vaca!
The unending inspiration that was Pirai Vaca’s daily contribution to all events through his presence, multiple group workshops, and informal interactions with everyone. His participation as an artiste private participant was akin to a blessing on this start to what will hopefully become an annual tradition in Delhi.
10. The prize for young participants (Komrisk most promising guitarist under 18) being shared by two really promising young players.
Delhi will have not one, but two rising talents to watch!
11. This workshop happened
Over 30 guitarists working together with Pirai Vaca on a warm up technical routine.
12. The entire festival was run by a handful of volunteers who also played classical guitar
None of them had training in event management, most of them hadn’t attended a guitar festival before. Yogi Ponappa and Dhiranjan Dasgupta were the men in the front, leading a small team of two that, as Yogi said in his closing address, “were the very wheels on which this cart kept rolling. They were dedicated beyond any regular sense of that word, and did everything to make this festival a success. They didn’t sleep at times, went without food, got up early and stayed up late, fetched, carried, arranged meals, coordinated transport, met the artistes at the airport and settled them in at the hotel, ran between this place and the hotel and all around Delhi a number of times a day, and did countless other things I don’t even know about – and they did this all with a smile, and with the greatest of good cheer.”
Anie (aka Aanubhav ) and Anjan, thank you so much! The classical guitar community of Delhi (and India too) is grateful to you and to Yogi & Dhiranjan for making a festival in Delhi possible.
CALCUTTA INTERNATIONAL CLASSICAL GUITAR FESTIVAL & COMPETITION 2015
13. The incredible musicality of Kevin Loh
Kevin displayed a mastery over his instrument, and proved to be an inspiration for the young guitarists of Calcutta, most of whom flocked for autographs after the concert was over!
14. The Matt Bacon Fan Club: Calcutta Chapter
Matt was one of the most sought-after teachers at the Calcutta festival. He’s guaranteed a receptive audience and eager students any time he wants to return to the City of Joy.
15. The last festival that this wonderful couple will be organising
Arkopriya Chatterjee and Theophilus Benjamin met at the 2012 Calcutta International Classical Guitar Festival. Before it was time for the next festival, they were engaged and then married!
They’ve been the core production team that made the festivals from that year till this possible, the heart behind the growing movement of classical guitar in India. In 2016, they will move out of Calcutta to new and different job roles across the country, in Mumbai.
Theo (aka Benjy) and Arko will continue to be part of IGF and CCGS events, but from now on, as participants, not organisers.
We’ll miss them!
With inputs from Yogi Ponappa, Nandini Sudhir, Kamaan Singh Dhami, Veda Aggarwal and Theophilus Benjamin.