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Richard playing violin on Crosby beach during the recording of BBC radio 4's WORD OF MOUTH - July 2014: Photo Credit: BBC

Map of Kolkata and Gorbhanga Village, Nadia, W. Bengal.

Richard Gordon-Smith was one of team of six artists and film makers resident in Kolkata and in Gorbhanga Village, Nadia, W. Bengal in February/March 2011.  The residency was the culmination of a cultural exchange organised by Planet Art eXchange in association with Banglanatak, who promote the interests of Indian folk artists.  

India: After the trek: Richard Gordon-Smith

Children in Kolkata dancing.

News

Richard Gordon-Smith button Richard has taken the plunge in a long-held ambition to write a novel. See the Blog page for his defence of this madness! [ May 2016 ]

Richard Gordon-Smith button On a personal note, Richard is delighted to welcome his beautiful second grandson James into the world.  Edward, who is now nearly five, is over the moon to have a little brother to play with at last! [ May 2016 ]

Richard Gordon-Smith button Richard's contribution to BBC radio's WORD OF MOUTH, 'Message in a Bottle' Programme, presented by Chris Ledgard, can be heard on the BBC iPlayer. HERE [ July 2014 ]

Richard Gordon-Smith button Richard was recently interviewed. You can read the interview in full from Richard's Blog Page. [ Sept 2012]

Richard Gordon-Smith button Richard was one of team of six artists and film makers resident in Kolkata and in Gorbhanga Village, Nadia, W. Bengal in February/March 2011.  The residency was the culmination of a cultural exchange organised by Planet Art eXchange in association with Banglanatak, who promote the interests of Indian folk artists.   It followed the Liverpool premiere in November 2010 of Richard’s Quartet ‘Thus Spoke Tagore’ Op. 48.  This work was part of a multimedia commission by PAX featuring Chau Dancers & musicians of Purulia, dancer & choreographer Renata Sheppard, the Live-A-Music Quartet and film by Hambi Haralambous.

The Home Team:
The Chau Dancers were led by Jagannath and Biren with three other dancers.  Mohan played Flute with Sibsankar on Clarinet, Mahadev on Dhol, Babu Fakir, Arjun Khyama and Krishna Das Baul on Vocals and Dotara, Sanatan Das on Dhol and Naren Hansda, a Jhumur singer.

The Visiting Team:
Vanessa Wiegand: Producer/Technology Manager SMARTlab Digital Media Institute
Seanan Brennan: folk musician, world music
Richard Gordon-Smith: composer, teacher, violinist
Tara Mooney: artist, textile designer, singer
Denise Doyle: virtual worlds, digital art formats
Renata Sheppard: dancer, choreographer

The Residency:
In five days of workshops the two teams developed a fusion performance that led their audience on an odyssey of music, song and dance around the open-air auditorium of the Eastern Zonal Cultural Centre in Kolkata.  The visitors then made the five hour jeep journey to Gorbhangar Village in Nadia, where we were privileged to participate in the mystical music making of the Baul-Fakiri.  The Indian performers were generous in the sharing of their spiritual artistry during the visit and they made us feel equal partners in their idiom, allowing a true exchange of musical ideas.

After spending the night in Gorbhangar, we were taken to another village where female Baul musicians live.  This was an unusual honour for outsiders.  We were welcomed in her home by the celebrated Baul-Fakiri singer Subhadra, with whom I had the pleasure of joining in improvisation.  Tara Mooney comments, “Her ability to leave her PLACE and enter SPACE is phenomenal; at these moments she …enters an ascetic realm”.

In 2005, the Baul tradition was included in the list of ‘Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity’ by UNESCO.  The Chau Dancers have since followed by being accorded the same UNESCO status in 2010.

To round off our India pilgrimage, we visited the village of Sonada in Darjeeling, where we stayed in the Bethany Children’s Home, an orphanage run by a Christian Sherpa family.  We slept, ate and shared music and dancing with the children of various ages, most of whom spoke English to some degree.  The following day we trekked up to Tonglu in Singalila National Park in Nepal, where we spent the night. The next morning we watched sunrise over the Himalayas and saw the breath-taking Kangchenjunga, the third highest mountain in the world, spectacularly emerge from the clouds.

From this visit I have developed a keen interest in the work of the Himalayan Kids Trust, which aims to promote the wellbeing of the disadvantaged children and youth in the region of the Himalayas. 

To learn more about the Himalayan Kids Trust, please follow the link on the LINKS page. 

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