Five Classical Musical Festivals in India

Five Classical Musical Festivals in India

By Terry Godier

Five Musical Festivals in India That No Classical Music Buffs Can Miss

One of the best ways of imbibing the culture of any land is to attend a music festival featuring its indigenous music. It is very rightly said that music has no language and thus can be understood by everybody irrespective of their background and ethnicity. The tradition of Indian music goes back hundreds of years. The Indian music scenario is perhaps like no other in the world – there are numerous musical instruments unique to the subcontinent and the diversity of styles of its classical or folk music is unmatched. If you are planning a trip to explore and understand the culture of India, the connection of music with the common people, their lives, aspirations, and quest for spirituality, you would do well to attend all or at least some of the music festivals described below:


Chembai Music Festival

Trivandrum, the capital city of the southern state of Kerala, a hub of commerce and industry as well as a major tourist destination plays host to Chembai Music Festival, held in September every year. The 11-day festival that traditionally starts on Ekadashi, the 11th day of the month in the Hindu calendar gets its name from Chembai Vaidyanath Bhagawathar, a legendary passionate believer of Lord Sree Guruvayurappan. The festival attracts more than 2000 exponents of Carnatic music. The principal attraction of this festival is the ‘Pancharatna Krithis’, songs penned by Thyagaraja that are sung on the 10th day of the festival. The final day ends with an assortment of all the favorite ragas of Chembai.


Dover Lane Music Conference

A six-day musical extravaganza that attracts the participation of some of the finest musicians in the country, the Dover Lane Music Conference is more than 50 years old. What started off as a mere soiree of some eminent musicians in a quiet locality of Kolkata has now been transformed into one of the most important music events of the nation. Thousands of classical music aficionados from all over the country throng to one of the largest auditoriums of the city. They not only revel in the musical performance of the maestros but also encourage young talent with promise. Indeed there are many instances of artists who have got a major boost in their careers by performing at this festival and have gone on to become reputed musicians for events of great diversity


Gunidas Sangeet Sammelan

The Gunidas Sangeet Sammelan was an initiative taken by Pandit C. R. Vyas to commemorate Pandit Jagganathbuwa Purohit, considered the doyen of the Agra Gharana. It was first held in 1977 and continues as an annual celebration held at the end of November / beginning of December in Mumbai .The festival has seen the participation of some of the most renowned singers and musicians in the country such as Ravi Shankar, Kishori Amonkar, Bhimsen Joshi, Kumar Gandharva, Pandit Jasraj, Shiv Kumar Sharma, Hari Prasad Chaurasia, Amjad Ali Khan, Zakir Hussain, Parween Sultana, Rashid Khan.


ITC Sangeet Sammelan

Conducted in a different location every year, ITC Sangeet Sammelan is an initiative of the diversified house of ITC to promote fresh musical talent. The first edition was held in New Delhi in the year 1971. In the decades that have followed, it has become one of the most prestigious events in the Indian musical calendar. Among the highlights of the event is a cash award given to one of the living legends of Indian music. With time, this award has gained in stature and today is considered to be among the top in the country for music.music3


Saptak Music Festival

Ahmadabad plays host every year to the calendar year’s first music festival, Saptak Music festival that is held in the first week of January. The event was first held way back in 1980 with Pandit Ravi Shankar inaugurating it. The festival, organized by a public charitable trust that also operates the Saptak School of Music, is spread over 11 days. The principal focus of the festival is to keep alive many of the Indian music traditions that have been fading away like the Dhrupad and the Thumri, as well as many instruments that have passed into relative obscurity like the Pakhawaj and the Sarangi. Inviting the older generation of artists to perform not only is a tribute to their prowess but also a demonstration of the versatility and diversity of these musical forms.

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Author bio: Terry Godier writes about musical trends across the world. You can read some of his recent articles on

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