Local Indian Classical Performing Arts Conservatory, Naatya Seva of Springfield, PA, will be hosting the first Indian Classical Arts Festival, Agama, in Philadelphia at the Merriam Theater, on the campus of The Kimmel Center from September 6th-8th, 2019. Agama, meaning handed down, is a festival showcasing the rich classical art traditions of India, as they have been handed down, from generation to generation. Setting the tone for a legacy of excellence, the three day lineup is as follows:
DAY 1 – TM Krishna is one of the pre-eminent vocalists in the rigorous Carnatic tradition of India’s classical music, and the inaugural performance for the festival. Support will be provided by his long-time co-artists RK Shriram Kumar on violin, K Arun Prakash on mridangam, and N Guru Prasad on ghatam. TM Krishna is making a very special appearance for this festival; this will be an exclusive concert; his only performance in the U.S. this year!
DAY 2 – A double header, Saturday evening opens with the east coast premiere of a tour-de-force Kathak dance drama with live orchestra, presented by Leela Dance Collective. This dance theater production featuring an all-female cast and original musical score, narrates the great epic, India’s Magnum Opus, Ramayana. The second performance of the evening is a Hindustani instrumental concert featuring sarod and tabla. The son of the esteemed Ali Akbar Khan, Alam Khan continues the practice of sarod, rendering melodic scales developed in the Indian courts of Emperor Akbar in the sixteenth century. Alam is accompanied on the tabla by two-time Grammy nominated Swapan Chaudhuri. Premiering for the first time in Philadelphia, Alam and Swapan will be joined by Manik Khan, the youngest son of the late Ali Akbar Khan.
DAY 3 – The finale performance of the festival will be a traditional Bharatanatyam Margam or prescribed repertoire format by Alumni of Kalakshetra Foundation alongside a live orchestra. Consisting of seven generations of performers, each rooted from the same training, for one night only, exclusively for this event, they come together to showcase the creation of their own artistic legacies!
The performances that will be presented as part of this festival are steeped in India’s ancient culture which have been passed down through oral transmission. The focus is on the classicism of Indian heritage which has a history of more than 1000 years. In addition to showcasing the artisan traditions of handloom textiles, jewelry and handicrafts, these art forms also showcase the literary tradition in India.
“We are at a point where there needs to be some meaningful disruption in how we torch bearers are carrying these classical traditions forward. My vision is to bring these classical arts to the main performing stages where they belong; the same stages that house ballet, opera, orchestras and Broadway,” said Philadelphia native, Anita Ranjani, founder of Naatya Seva and curator of the festival.
The festival will appeal to a large and mixed audience drawing art connoisseurs from far and wide. Followers of western and world classical music and dance will be attracted by the varied format and the quality of the art, while the South Asia diaspora will come to see and hear well known musicians and dancers.
Pennsylvania Governor, Tom Wolf has presented a Welcome Letter in support of this festival. Councilman David Oh, Chair of Philadelphia City Council Committee on Global Opportunities and the Creative/Innovative Economy will be presenting a City Council Citation recognizing September 6th as Indian Classical Arts Day in the City of Philadelphia.
September 6th – September 8th 2019
Merriam Theater, 250 S Broad St. Philadelphia
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