Sawai fest continues to draw foreigners

Published: 13 December, 2013 01:37 IST | Kartiki Nitin Lawate |

MiD DAY caught up with three German nationals, who are first-time visitors to the Indian classical music festival

Sixty-one years in the running and the Sawai Gandharva Bhimsen Mahotsav, one of the most popular Indian classical music festivals, continues to attract music enthusiasts from foreign shores.

Schhmitt Oliver, Philipp Heise and Thomas Wilde
Schhmitt Oliver, Philipp Heise and Thomas Wilde, all from south Germany, enjoy the Sawai festival yesterday. Pic/Sachin Thakare

On the first day of the four-day event, which commenced yesterday, several foreign nationals thronged the New English School ground in Ramanbag where the event is being held. MiD DAY caught up with three German nationals who were visiting the festival for the first time.

Schhmitt Oliver (46), who hails from south Germany, said, “It’s my first visit to the festival and India. I have come all the way from Germany only to hear the songs sung here and to get a better understanding of Indian classical music. I’m learning Ragas from the CD’s available in our country, but listening to live music is bliss. Back home, there is dearth of such events.”

With a stellar line-up, the festival will see maestros and stalwarts of Hindustani classical music taking the stage over the four-day period. Yesterday, the event began with a performance by clarinet player Madhukar Dhumal and concluded with a performance by Pt Jasraj.

Pandit Jasraj
In seventh heaven: Pandit Jasraj performs at the festival yesterday. Pic/Krunal Gosavi

“I’m really enjoying all the ragas played here as well as the variations by the different artists in their ragas. The music is very interesting. It is a great experience and listening to it live is a completely different experience than hearing it on CD’s or the radio back in our country,” said 53-year-old Philipp Heise, a first time visitor to the festival.

Shrinivas Joshi, one of the founder members of Sawai, said, “It is found that people from Israel, UK, America and all over the world come to this festival. All people who are interested in classical music enjoy coming here. People come here to learn music and also several exponents of classical music love coming here,”

German national Thomas Wilde said “This has been the best experience of my life, listening to Indian classical music live and that too by the experts. I play the mouth organ and also learn ragas from the CD’s, but hearing live music I’m learning a lot more for sure.”

Shirish Bodhani, one of the organisers of the festival, said, “There has been an increase in people coming from outside the country because classical music can be understood by all and enjoyed by all. This does not need a language or anything. Music has no boundaries.” 

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