Kohl-eyed, with a strong liking for traditional Indian outfits and the music of the legendary Asha Bhosale, Welsh harpist Georgia Ruth said she felt at home performing at the Hindustan Times Kala Ghoda Arts Festival on Saturday, even though it was with an instrument rather rare in this part of the world.
“A lot of people here have never seen a harp, and when I was walking on the streets with the instrument, many came up to me and asked what it was," said Ruth, who opened the act with a Welsh song.
Ruth performed with sarangi player Suhail Yusuf Khan and three sibling members of Ruth’s band. Together, they created an eclectic vibe with the harp, sarangi, guitar and drums.
“Though her music is from a different part of the world, there are so many similarities. To me, it sounds just like an Indian classical raga," said Khan, who is based in Delhi.
This was Ruth’s second trip to Mumbai, who said she feels a connection with India and its people.
“The people here are so warm and passionate,” added the petite musician, who won the Welsh Music Prize last year for her debut album, Week of Pines.
Ruth came to the festival through the British Council, which brought Welsh artistes to the fest last year too. “I saw Ruth and her band perform last year at an event in Cardiff and decided right then to bring them here,” said Tasneem Vahanvaty, India head of business development for arts at the Council.
“I had heard about the Kala Ghoda festival but I did not know it would be this big,” said Ruth, who enthralled hundreds at Cross Maidan on Saturday. “The best part about the festival is that it is democratic. In the UK, festivals as big as this are not open to everyone.”
For the audience, the performance was a rare treat.
“This was one of the best musical performances I have ever seen,” said Shubhankar Sule, 19, a Navi Mumbai resident. “It was extremely inspiring to see the fusion of the harp with a classical instrument.”