Reviewing the legacy of the Concert for Bangladesh

Mixed reality music event ‘Concert From Bangladesh’ to be held today

Photo: courtesy of Shezad Dawood and UBIK Productions

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Photo: courtesy of Shezad Dawood and UBIK Productions

The Concert for Bangladesh, a pair of charity concerts hosted by former Beatles guitarist George Harrison and Indian sitarist Ravi Shankar, was held on August 1, 1971 at Madison Square Garden in New York City for raise international awareness and fund aid for refugees in then-eastern Pakistan, following the war of liberation of Bangladesh. Extending the 50-year legacy of the concert, Samdani Art Foundation (Dhaka) and UBIK Productions (London) collaborated to organize a mixed reality music event, titled “Concert from Bangladesh”. The initiative is supported by the British Council Digital Collaboration Fund.

‘Concert From Bangladesh’ will be broadcast via the Pioneer Works online platform today at 6pm in Bangladesh. He will tour Yorkshire Sculpture Park (Wakefield) as part of Yorkshire Sculpture International and Pioneer Works (New York). Additional events will be held in association with the Chisenhale Gallery (London), the Leeds City Varieties Music Hall (Leeds), and the Srihatta Samdani Art and Sculpture Park Center (Sylhet).

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The expansive three-act sound journey will begin with renowned Baul singer Arif Baul, accompanied by instrumental virtuosos Nazrul Islam, Saidur Rahman and Sohel. The second act consists of a piece composed by Enayet and Nishit Dey, which explores the musical language shared between Nazrul Sangeet, classical raga and the music of the 90s. The act combines electronic production and avant-garde arrangements of Enayet, Provhat Rahman and Adittya Arzu, also known as Siaminium, with classical raga and Nazrul Sangeet by Meerashri Arshee and Moumita Haque, the Bansuri flute by Jawaad ​​Mustakim Al Muballig and Nishit Dey on sitar. The third and final act features performances by Bangladeshi hip hop duo Tabib Mahmud and Rana, 12, ‘Gully Boy’.

Rajeeb Samdani, co-founder and patron of the Samdani Art Foundation (SAF), said the concert will cover the world throughout 2021 and the following year. It will also include live performances and talks. “The concert is an opportunity to present our country and its potential to the world. We have come a long way in a short period of fifty years and music is a great way to express everything,” he said.

“This is the first time we are exploring virtual reality. We are excited. We hope to push the boundaries with our talents,” added Rajeeb Samdani.

Organizers have commissioned acclaimed British-South Asian artist Shezad Dawood to create a virtual reality stage for the concert. It has been curated by Diana Campbell, artistic director of the SAF, with producer and music artist Enayet Kabir, assistant curators Ruxmini Choudhury and Shoummo Saha.

“We selected musicians with great potential for the event. Their music is based on history and the present. Although we call it a concert, it is an art film that will be screened. “Through rigorous research into history and communication with musicians, we chose venues as changing backgrounds in performances. We intend to transcend the essence of our land to the world,” said Ruxmini Choudhury. The changing virtual scenarios will take the audience through the streets of Dhaka, present the historically vibrant literary and intellectual center Beauty Boarding, transport people on the banks of the Gorai River to Kushtia and Somapura Mahavihara to Paharpur, Naoga. “Screening venues are also chosen to include the diaspora community living abroad. We have added English subtitles and also the Sylhet dialect,” Ruxmini added.

An album and ethically produced merchandise from “Concert From Bangladesh” will be available online at Pioneer Works. All proceeds from the event will be distributed among the musicians and the Bengali charity Friendship, which provides health care to climate change refugees and promotes women’s rights in Bangladesh.

The concert can be viewed for free by registration via – https://pioneerworks.org/programs/concert-from-bangladesh

The author is an art researcher and writer. Email: priyanka.chowdhury@gmail.com.



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