Did you know that Uzbekistan could be a destination for music lovers? Every two years it hosts an international music festival at Samarkand since 1997. At the festival organised by the president of the Republic of Uzbekistan, Islam Karimov, over 50 countries present their national folk art. And, when the president of a country dances on stage to inaugurate the festival, the musical milieu is set from the word go. This year, the VIII International Music Festival Sharq Tarolanari, held from August 25 to 30, was to celebrate the country’s 20th year of Independence from erstwhile USSR. India participated in the festival and was also part of an international jury.
Love for Hindustan
The capital, Tashkent mirrors Europe; Samarkand, located on the Great Silk Road, is rightly the pearl of the Orient. In this cultural brew, India offers a special potion. Being a
, you’ll meet fans of actors Raj Kapoor and the legendary Gabbar Singh. Don’t be surprised if a Russian or Uzbeki-speaking local breaks into an impromptu jig singing
Jimmy, Jimmy, aaja, aaja
. “They have preserved their music, which blends Orient and Persian styles with Hindustani,” says Bal Ram Saini, the founder of Saraswati Music College, New Delhi and Tashkent, who was a member of the festival jury from India.
Music for everyone
The words of 14th century conqueror Amir Timur hold true: “If you doubt our power, look at our buildings”. “From security to hospitality — it is a surprise when a small country hosts such a big festival. This is a lesson for us,” says Saini, whose college has been participating and winning prizes at the festival for many years. The Indian Council for Cultural Relations selected the Warsi Brothers for the festival this year. The qawwals, who remained reserved while other participants jammed throughout the night, surprised everyone when they won the Bright Performance award.
From Japanese folklore to Czech repertoire, the music covers all genres. While the participants are judged for their performance at the main venue, Registan Square, they also perform at open parks, where one can catch them live without tickets. “The real festival was when we interacted with the people,” says Jaoquin La Habana, an Afro-Cuban singer-dancer.