Chinese-Indian musical fusion aims to bridge cultural divide

By working with different organizations from all over the world, Jing'an District aims to build a cosmopolitan sphere that all communities can share and enjoy.

Jing'an District have been actively luring different forms of arts to the city in an effort to promote a cosmopolitan lifestyle by collaborating with different art organizations from all over the world.

Chaiti Arts Foundation, an organization which is dedicated to promoting traditional Indian artforms, is one of the organizations who have been invited to the city. They will hold an Indian art festival at Shanghai Center Theater on June 2. 

World class artists like sitar player Shujaat Khan and tabla player Bivakar Choudhury will take the stage to bring the charm of traditional Indian music to this part of the world.

People had the chance to experience Indian music on Saturday as a Chinese-Indian fusion music concert was held at Jing'an Culture Center. It featured traditional Chinese guqin and Indian sitar along with Chinese calligraphy, which attracted such a large audience that some had to stand during the show.

The instrumental concert, Botanical Sutras: The Blossoming of Sanskrit, was a conceptual musical drama in which ancient Chinese poetry and stories from Bhagavad Gita were portrayed, according to director Zhou Lei.

"Both Indian and Chinese music are in tune with nature," Zhou said, allowing the two different music genres to "find a common root and create harmony."

Chinese performers, Zhai Xinlai and Feng Anbang, are students from Shanghai Conservatory of Music. The pair didn't rehearse with the Indian musicians, instead jamming on-stage together.

Indian dancer Madhumita Bhuyan performed The Bird with Two Heads, a myth from Indian classic Panchtantra, to the beat of tabla and Chinese drums.  

"It was stunning when the tabla came in during the guqin solo," audience member Liu Fen, who came to the show with her 7-year-old daughter, said. "And I didn't think the high-pitched sitar could jam with the guqin, which is also considered a solo instrument." 

Liu pictured an image of a waterfall rushing as winter ice melted away while she was watching the calligraphy emerge from the screens on stage. "Notes of guqin were splashing while the sitar created a mysterious atmosphere that made me wonder where the waterfall ended."

Liu said she will keep an eye on her schedule to make sure she's available on June 2 to see the other show.

"Harmony for humanity is the very essence of what the festival aims to achieve," said Siddharth Sinha, co-founder of Chita who has been organizing Indian cultural events in Shanghai for more than five years.

Chen Hong, head of the district's cultural bureau, said Jing'an has become a name card of Shanghai's diverse culture. The center would like to make more physical space available for different forms of art and cultural products.

An open office space has been renovated on the sixth floor of Jing'an Culture Center as an incubator of cultural products, where a couple of art studios will open by the end of this month.

Ti Gong

Madhumita Bhuyan performs The Bird with two Heads, a myth from Indian classic Panchtantra. 

Ti Gong

Indian and Chinese musicians jam together on stage.

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