Serendipity Arts Festival Curators Bickram Ghosh and Ehsaan Noorani on This Year’s Music Lineup

The fifth edition, which takes place from December 15th to December 23rd in Goa, includes performances by Ricky Kej, Rudy Wallang, Tetseo Sisters, V. Selvaganesh and several others

Anurag Tagat
Dec 08, 2022

Serendipity Arts Festival’s music programming is chiefly curated by Ehsaan Noorani and Bickram Ghosh. Photos: Courtesy of the artist

Multi-disciplinary arts event Serendipity Arts Festival returns to Goa this month and music remains a high draw at the fifth edition, alongside visual art, dance, theater, craft and more. The festival enlisted tabla artist and composer Bickram Ghosh and guitarist-composer Ehsaan Noorani as curators this year and it has resulted in a diverse lineup that spotlights North-East India’s indie scene as well as dives into grandiose works of legendary percussionists.

Between December 15th and December 23rd, Serendipity Arts Festival is held across several venues and this year brings performances by bluesman Rudy Wallang and the Family band (on December 15th), Ricky Kej (on December 18th), a fusion performance with percussionist Taufiq Qureshi, tabla artist Ojas Adhiya, flautist Rakesh Chaurasia, sitarist Purbayan Chatterjee and keyboardist Pulak Sarkar (on December 21st) and a tribute to Bollywood’s finest composer, R.D. Burman by those who’ve worked with Pancham, including flautist Ronu Majumdar, guitarist Sunil Kaushik and trumpeter Kishore Sodha (on December 20th).

Ghosh, who will also join percussionists V. Selvaganesh and Sivamani with sitarist Abhisek Mallick on December 16th, says he’s always enjoyed that the festival has a “think India” approach that’s applied to a global canvas. He says his goals as a musician aligned with what the festival has been doing for years. “Indian music is generally intimate in its essence, it’s one person playing a sitar, one person playing a tabla, but to take that and to create a bigger sound and put it on a format which makes it more festival friendly is something I’ve been working on for several years now,” he says.

For Noorani, however, this was his first crack at curating the music for an arts festival, something he says he was quite excited to take on. “I’m very excited that there is going to be this kind of eclectic feature at the festival,” he says about his curation of Nagaland artists like Tetseo Sisters, Abdon Mech, Trance Effect, plus Mizoram rock act Avora Records and Arunchal Pradesh-bred singer-songwriter Takar Nabam.

Much of Noorani’s curating sensibility came from when he was on Instagram live sessions and browsing the platform for musicians during the lockdowns, discovering artists whose talent was “significantly noteworthy.” He adds, “I realized that these bands/singers mostly tour in the Northeast itself and sometimes do events in some pockets of Delhi and Mumbai. The pan-India appeal was missing. Hence, I thought that this should be a good platform for them to showcase their material to lakhs and lakhs of people who would be visiting the festival.”

Ghosh’s curation reflects his own journey with Indian fusion in a way, and how the style has essentially been driven by classical artists. “I think it is the malleability of the craft and the versatility that the classical artists have, which has allowed them to traverse into newer areas,” he says about the artists he’s called on. Then there’s a bit of Bollywood with the R.D. Burman tribute, called World of Pancham which will also include excerpts from filmmaker Brahmanand Singh’s 2008 documentary Pancham Unmixed. “I have also curated Sanjay Mandal’s and The Throwaways, a fantastic band spearheaded by Sanjay who has taken street children from Kolkata, and taken street objects and created a whole show out of it,” Ghosh adds.

One of the final acts at Serendipity Arts Festival will bring together Ghosh and Noorani, who will perform as part of a Sufi folk set, led by vocalist Kalpana Patowary and Qawwal Sufi singer Parvati Kumari.

Outside of the curators’ picks, there are performances by New Delhi/Goa artist Stefan Kaye (from ska act The Ska Vengers and the Jass B’stards), vocalist-composer Pavithra Chari, DJ-producers such as OX7GEN, Zequenx, Vridian and several others.

Check out the full schedule of performances at Serendipity Arts Festival here. Get more event details here.

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