The second edition of the Mahindra Percussion Festival transforms Bengaluru into a percussion haven resonating through the ages

India-wide release, 28th March 2024: This year, the celebration of Holi began early in Bengaluru as legendary percussionists from across the country rendered heartwarming and soul-stirring performances at the Prestige Srihari Khoday Centre for Performing Arts. In a one-of-a-kind setting, the second edition of Mahindra Percussion Festival celebrated the arrival of spring on a rhythmic note with percussive beats. The two-day festival witnessed its attendees join an exciting line-up of 80 homegrown artists in a journey through centuries-old percussion culture, subcultures and traditions of local Indian streets.

MPF'24- Swarathma

This edition of the Mahindra Percussion Festival steadfastly held onto the origins of percussion while bringing new collaborations and new energy to the audiences with a line-up of established and upcoming maestros’ voices. In their unique styles, the artists renewed focus on percussion instruments and their roots to do it full justice while exploring diverse genres and art forms. A major pull of the festival was its melting pot of traditional Carnatic compositions, Indian classical rhythms, contemporary sounds of jazz, and electronic, as well as multiple art forms like poetry, rap, Kuchipudi and Bharatanatyam dances amongst more.

The audiences were in for a treat with Charu Hariharan’s landmark performance with the Kozhikode and the Kattunaykkar (Jenukuruba) communities that brought to fore the enduring percussion traditions of the Kerala and Karnataka folk and tribes. Anantha R Krishnan and mridangam maestro Viveik Rajagopalan’s ‘Two Summ’ act brought ancient Carnatic tihais and korvais layered with electro-acoustic sounds. Joining Swarathma onstage to move the audiences with an hour-long percussive extravaganza were Karthik Mani, Thavil Raja, Madhu & Sreekanta. Alongside them were The Beat Gurus with their djembes, darkubas, didgeridoos and the Carnatic flute, while live dholak players added visceral energy to the experience.

This spectacular evening culminated with Vikku Vinayakram’s Ghatam Symphony. The ensemble featured three generations of his family – his sons V Selvaganesh and V Umashankar and his grandson Swaminathan Selvaganesh – alongside Ms Sukanya Ramgopal – making it an extraordinary celebration of percussion heritage. What followed was a medley of the kanjira, morsing and the vocal konnakol complementing the distinctive metallic sound of the earthenware pot that paid homage to Vedic traditions, transcending conventional boundaries of South Indian music.

The second day featured artists from ‘Rhythms of India’– BC Manjunath, Darshan Doshi, Varijashree Venugopal and keyboardist and vocalist Praveen Rao represented the interplay of diverse classical and contemporary musical streams of India, taking attendees on a unique auditory journey. The audiences were brought together in their collective experience of universal human emotions like love, longing, joy and sorrow through the timeless storytelling of ‘Ashtanayika – Kal Aur Aaj’ that featured Shivangini Yeashu, Krantinaari, Pratika, Vivieck Rajagopalan, Vaibhav Wavikar, Bharath Kumar, Aishwarya Meenakshi, Swarangi Savdekar & Yamini Khamkar. The immersive act created a dialogue between the past and the present to delve into the emotional spectrum of the eight archetypal heroines that resonates amongst audiences even today, across time and space.

Closing the curtain on this year’s festival was Taufiq Qureshi’s ‘Surya,’ featuring Sarang Kulkarni, Abhay Nayampally, Kaushiki Jogalekar & Shikhar Naad, which redefined the tight boundaries of genres and tradition by marrying the rich heritage of Indian Classical music with jazz, folk, Afro, Latin and contemporary sounds. This fluid act had a life of its own, evolving with spontaneous improvisation and truly drawing audiences in with live dialogue – making them very much an intrinsic part of the act.

Inspired by the artists’ presence, the attendees added their personal touch to the festival’s soundscape at the experiential zone curated by The Hindu, where they tried their hand at creating their rhythms on various percussion instruments like Drums, Tabla, Congas, Mridangam, and Darbukka. Not only that, but they were also able to treat their taste buds to a mouth-watering curation of food and beverage options at the Cowboy Cafe, 30 Square, Pocket Chillers by 30 Square, Biggies Burger and Araku Coffee.

Building upon its preceding debut edition, this year’s edition of the Mahindra Percussion Festival sought to further bring the new generation of audiences closer to the art and enduring legacy of percussion music, giving it a new lease of life.