By Rebecca Gould, Head of Arts, British Council Wales

07 January 2021 - 10:30

Rani Marin jamming with Gareth Bonello
Rani Marin jamming with Gareth Bonello in Pahambir during the Khasi-Cymru Collective.   ©

Gareth Bonello

Rebecca Gould reviews the Collaborations in Music event.

The Collaborations in Music event was divided into two separate sessions. A pre-recorded panel discussion presented as part of the Ziro FOCUS India-Wales Virtual Music Festival, screened on their virtual platform and an Instagram live session. This event capitalized on the strengths of using complimentary digital platforms to connect, collaborate and present new ideas. 

Exploring Indo-Welsh music collaborations

The panel discussion, exploring Indo-Welsh music collaborations with music festival producers/directors across borders, gender, and digital landscapes had a focus on the current Connections Through Culture India-Wales music projects. The session was introduced by Roshni Rao, head of arts, South India, British Council India and chaired by Tom Sweet, music programme manager at the British Council. 

First up we had, Divya Bhatia, artistic director/co-producer of Jodhpur RIFF, who provided an insight into the artistic process behind collaborative festivals using a range of images and videos. He spoke about musical collaborations between Jodhpur RIFF, Rajasthan, India and two festivals in Wales, Beyond The Border and Festival of Voice. Some of the images and rehearsal videos brought out how music transcends boundaries to create lasting connections and friendships. 

Next up we had Lubna Shaheen, an independent producer based in Guwahati, India and the programme director of Ziro Festival of Music. She chronicled the journey of Ziro Music festival, that began in 2012, a DIY festival showcasing the independent music scene in India at Ziro valley in the northeast Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh.

Next, Andy Jones, music programmer at Focus Wales, spoke about the inception of Focus Wales, an international multi-venue showcase festival in Wrexham, North Wales. 

Andy and Lubna spoke about how Ziro Music Festival and Focus Wales, both recipients of Connections Through Culture, India- Wales grants had to pivot their collaborative plans, coming together to create the Ziro Focus India-Wales virtual music festival. Their collaboration resulted in a highly immersive virtual music festival. They created a virtual landscape, where Wrexham and Ziro valley blended into each other with some great artwork and many musical performances, which brought the virtual world to life. They spoke with passion about the hard work and resilience required to stage a music festival, especially in these trying times. 

The importance of international festivals

Lastly, we had Eluned Hâf, head of Wales Arts International, who spoke about the importance of such festivals and how they are portals into other cultures. She spoke about  Ghazalaw, an India-Wales music collaboration between Mumbai based ghazal singer, Tauseef Akhtar, and Welsh folk musician and writer, Gwyneth Glyn. While discussing the importance of such collaborations and the responsibility we have towards them, she went on to highlight the need of inclusivity and diversity, and how The Privilege Café has bought diversity right into the forefront of the discourse around equal collaborations. 

You can watch the full event here

Musicians Gareth Bonello and Tomos Williams in conversation

The second event was an Instagram live session, featuring award-winning songwriter and musician Gareth Bonello in conversation with Tomos Williams, musician and band leader for Indo-Welsh fusion band Khamira and Welsh jazz/folk sextet Burum. The conversation was broadcast on the British Council Wales and India Instagram pages. Their conversation was a journey we undertook with them, and included live musical performances from both. They discussed music from Khasi hills, Meghalaya in India, jazz clubs in Delhi and Cardiff, welsh folk tunes, Miles Davies and much more.

You can watch the full event here 

Rebecca Gould

Rebecca Gould

Head of Arts, British Council Wales