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World Sufi Spirit Festival: A perfect treat for music aficionados
Wednesday February 26, 2014 9:47 PM, IANS

A fusion of Sufi music and history at the three-day World Sufi Spirit Festival had aficionados from across the world soak up the atmosphere at the Mehrangarh Fort here.

Abir Nehme from Lebanon

Listening to various renowned artists from different parts of the world at the Mehrangarh Fort, which stands a hundred feet on a perpendicular cliff, four hundred feet above the skyline of Jodhpur, was an experience in itself.

If Shamss Ensemble from Iran and Abir Nehme from Lebanon transcended language barrier and whipped up mesmerizing performances, Kavita Seth outshone fellow Indian singers at the third edition of the Jodhpur fest with her cantabile singing.

Despite strong winds creating a mild dust storm and gusts, the singer, known for crooning hit movie songs "Iktara" and "Tum hi ho bandhu", performed relentlessly at the Zenana Deodi. It was like nature versus music and, obviously, the latter overpowered the former.

Her rendition of "Dama dam mast kalandar", "Wahi khuda hai" and "Benazar" enthralled the audience, a mix of Indian and international guests.

Hosted by the royal family of Jodhpur and helmed by the Mehrangarh Museum Trust, the festival was supported by the Aga Khan Foundation, the Getty Trust Foundation, and the Helyn Hamlyn Trust and presented by Skoda Superb.

Catering to the niche audience, the annual event registered a footfall of 7,000 visitors, way higher than the earlier editions, said Karni Singh Jasol, director of the Mehrangarh Museum Trust.

"The response we received has been very encouraging, positive and much rewarding. The backdrop of the fort and the various locations within the fort compliments the music that artists from across the world showcase in front of the audience," said Singh.

"The number of visitors this year has doubled in comparison to the previous editions with a registered a footfall of 7,000 visitors. Madan Gopal ji, Abir Nehme and Anwar Khan Manganiar's performances were much applauded in Nagaur, while Kavita Seth's performance was greeted with standing ovation in Jodhpur," he added.

The fest was held Feb 17-19 at Ahhichatragarh Fort in Nagaur and then travelled to Jodhpur, where it was concluded Feb 23.

The Fakirs and Bauls of Bengal, the children of the Langa community and the Mohamed Ba Jeddoub and the Al Chabab Al-andalus were much admired by audiences.

Sabri Brothers sang with the right tempo. However, the harmonic tension between them on the stage was a bit uncanny and Chintoo Singh's dissonance disturbed, but in a way, he impressed.

Pakistani artist Javed Bashir was scheduled to perform, but he couldn't make it due to visa issues. Therefore, Sabri Brothers were roped in to fill the gap.

Among the international artists, Shamss Ensemble gave a soulful performnce. The members were in a total consonance and synchronized flawlessly on the 'tanbur' and the 'daf'. The tempo and temperament was so spellbinding that music lovers seemed to have lost themselves in their music.

The intonation of Lebanese singer Abir, who excels in the art of singing the spiritual repertory of Maronite, Byzantine and Syrian origins, was fascinating.

Arzu Aliyeva, from Azerbaijan, was equally impressive, especially her high octave rendition.

"History and Sufism connects well and it offers a different experience altogether. Naguar had a limited guests, but here it is more generic and artists are very good," said Ravi Mutthi.

Stage lighting is an integral part of outdoor evening performances and here too the technicians created the right mood by using a perfect intensity and colour that helped reinforce the performances.

If the artists kept their audience interested, the latter were attentive and appreciative.

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