When culture enthusiasts visit the Edinburgh International Festival in the UK this August, they will see the likes of Pandit Ravi Shankar, Shashi Tharoor and Tarun Tejpal share the stage alongside other Asian artistes and personalities.
In keeping with the festival’s long-term goal of not being Europe-centric, festival director Jonathan Mills has chosen Asian culture as the theme for the 2011, and has invited more than eight eminent Indian personalities to perform in Edinburgh between August 12 and September 3.
“Though Indians have performed at the festival before, this year is special because it is about the influence that Asia and Europe have had on each other over years of building longstanding relationships,” said Mills, who has directed the festival for five years and is currently in Mumbai to launch the festival programme in India.
The Edinburgh Festival, founded in 1947, is one of Europe's most popular and reputed cultural festivals that draw more than two million people to the city every year.
This year, the Indian performers include Bangalore-based classical dance group Nrityangam Dance Ensemble, sitarist Pandit Ravi Shankar, sarod player Ustad Amjad Ali Khan and Rajasthani folk musicians Lakha Khan, Kadar Khan and Bhanwari Devi.
Indian writers and intellectuals Shashi Tharoor, Tarun Tejpal and Shoma Chaudhury will give talks on a changing India as part of a series of debates called Continental Shifts.
“Through such as festival, I hope to help people see that the things we believed were exclusively European are not really so,” said Mills, pointing out that though Indian and European classical music is different, the idea of differentiating between classical, avant garde and other traditions is common to both cultures.