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Tagore 2014: Love, peace, ideas and great music

Tagore 2014: Love, peace, ideas and great music

June 19 2014

A festival celebrating an iconic Indian figure draws together some of the best around, both contemporary and classical…

By Chitra Mogul

TWO great maestros of music will descend on a 14th century house and grounds in Devon to celebrate the spirit and work of one of the greatest literary and artistic figures of all time, Rabindranath Tagore, this weekend.

Mercury music prize winner Talvin Singh (pictued above) and Indian sarod maestro Amjad Ali Khan are just two of a whole posy of talent that can be seen at the three-day festival, “Tagore 2014: Celebration of Peace”, which starts tomorrow (June 20) at Dartington in Devon.

Singh, who has played alongside a number of global icons, including Madonna and Jay Z, and most recently collaborated with Yoko Ono, can be seen in the studio space at Dartington Hall.

In the great hall, one of India’s great musicians, sarod player Amjad Ali Khan, will take up residence for a short time on Saturday evening.

A much revered global figure, he hails from a family whose ancestors are said to have invented the instrument. Ali Khan’s sons, Ayaan and Aman, are all famous sarod players in their own right.

Amjad Ali Khan plays at Tagore 2014

Kathak dancer Akash Odedra is another major figure to be performing at Tagore 14 this year.

One of Dartington’s new associate artists, he will be performing “Murmur” and “Inked” which are both deeply personal pieces as he told us. The double bill can be seen on Sunday.

Indian-born composer Param Vir brings his unique engagement with the musical works of Tagore to the great hall on Sunday as well.

Among Dartington’s other associate artists performing are the multi-disciplinary Impermanence Dance Theatre and audio-storytellers, Earfilms.

Leading live artist Asuman Biswas will start a major new commission that will finish at Tagore 2015. He will embark on his new role as artist-in-residence.

Social activist and campaigner Satish Kumar, creator of the first Tagore Festival in 2011, will lead a meditation and speak on inner peace as an essential precursor to building peace with others.

Another one of the highlights will be the Bollywood dance workshop run by Anand Bhatt.

Nearby Newton Abbot’s own mbira (African musical instrument) player Chartwell Dutiro curates an event featuring five world-class exponents of world music.

Billed as a festival bringing “world-class performers representing the very best of East meets West”, and embodying Tagore’s ideals, it brings together music, dance, ideas and artistic practice to a part of the country much admired for it scenic beauty and rolling landscapes.

As well as the opportunity to hear and see great artists, there are myriad other points of interest and activities in the historic grounds.

Bill Gee, artistic director of the Dartington Hall Trust, says: “Tagore 2014 offers the chance experience a little of Tagore’s vision of arts, ideas and crafts in daily life over three vibrant days.

“Not only will you see and hear outstanding musicians, dancers, theatre and peace activists from around the world, but you can take part – from Schumacher College’s (an ecology school) Wild Ideas tent on liberation ecology to the Midsummer Fire Party located on the banks of the Dart.

“The outdoor performances are set to be truly magical experiences in the soaringly beautiful Dartington grounds.”

Some of the workshops at the Festival are: Schumacher College Wild Ideas tent on Liberation Ecology, Stone Carving, 5 Ways to Wellbeing, The Poster Workshop, Impermanence Creative, Alternative Therapy Tasters, Freedom Quilt Workshop, Wake Up Yoga!, Mindfulness for Health & Wellbeing, My Imagination Saved Me and the Midsummer Fire Party! Tim Crabtree on Mindfulness; Satish Kumar on Make Tea Not War; Bread, Print & Roses on the Anarchist Bakery and political posters; art activist Ruth Cross on No Justice No Peace.

One of the many attractions of Tagore 2014, decorated elephant photo: Jacqui Gratton

Those supporting the festival include Sangeeta Datta, Javed Aktar & Zoe Rahman, Free Radicals – No Justice No Peace, Neil Callagham & Simone Kenyon, Sangeeta Bahadur, A Taste of Wellbeing, Sukanta Chaudhuri, Soundart Unity Party, World of Sacred Music, Stories to Wear, Dr Kalyan Kundu, Dalala My Bike, Mary Evelyn Tucker, Dark Mountain, Seedy Sisters, Nicki Wells, Bhavan and Peace, Impermanence Dance, Dance in Devon, Peter Oswald, One Taste, The Letters, and Omblivion.

Dartington Hall also has The Shops at Dartington with 15 boutique shops, a conference centre with accommodation and the award-winning White Hart restaurant and bar. Over one million visitors annually visit Dartington.

Based at the Dartington Hall Trust grounds, Schumacher College runs courses in sustainable living and tries to look afresh at the ecological challenges facing humans in the 21st century. It was founded by Kumar.

The festival, now in its fourth year, is hosted at Dartington Hall, which comprises a school and a centre for the performing arts and this is supported by the Arts Council.

Dartington itself was inspired by Santiniketan, the school and centre for arts set up in Calcutta (Kolkata) by Tagore himself.

His secretary Leonard Elmhirst returned to the UK to recreate a similar ideal on 880 leafy acres in the Devon countryside.

In 1925, he and his wife, Dorothy bought the run-down estate, renovated it and set up the Dartington Hall Trust. That was to be the beginning of what was called the ‘Dartington Experiment’.

The couple were the creators of a number of initiatives, including the Dartington House School.

The estate became a hub for creative artists, musicians, architects and philosophers from around the globe. These included, to name a few, Bertrand Russell, Yehudi Menuhin, Stravinsky, Ravi Shankar, Aldous Huxley, George Bernard Shaw and, of course, Tagore himself.

For more information, visit

Tagore 14 festival tickets available from £5-£15 at or 01803 847070

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Written by Asian Culture Vulture


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