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Keeping it alive with music

The 15th edition of the annual Monte Music Festival was recently held with the backdrop of breathtaking sunsets and soul-stirring music in Goa. The Score Magazine does a recap

Over the last 15 years, Monte Music Festival has carved a niche of its own among the music festivals held in Goa. Every year, the Monte Music Festival has the privilege to count on a growing audience from all walks of life – those who appreciate Western and Eastern music and dance forms, that makes a pilgrimage to the ancient chapel to satiate their craving and love for performing arts. With performances held inside the old heritage chapel and in the courtyard with a backdrop of the picturesque Chorão and Divar islands and the River Mandovi, the festival begins at sunset and goes on till late in the evening. International, national and local artists are hand-picked to be a part of this celebration of cultural dialogue, heritage, music and dance. The 15th edition of the annual Monte Music Festival, presented by Fundação Oriente, was recently held from February 3 – 5, 2017 at the Chapel of Our Lady of Mount, Old Goa.

Monte Music Festival is not a fusion festival and it does not aspire to be so; it is a platform for these two rich cultural traditions to simply communicate. During 3 days, its courtyard and the interior of the chapel are the backdrops for a series of concerts that have been inspiring musicians and the public for the last 15 years. From a small festival, Monte Music Festival has become one of the most important cultural events in the Goan cultural calendar, and most importantly, without losing its essence. The intimate concerts and performances have free entrance in an attempt to recreate what Goa really means to all: a common ground for understanding, sharing different cultures and an opportunity to understand the world around us.

Monte has without any doubt one of the most stunning sunsets in India. In 1999 Fundação Oriente restored one of Goa’s most beautiful XVI chapels, Capela de Nossa Senhora do Monte (Chapel of Our Lady of the Mount), situated on the top of a hill in Old Goa, overlooking the Mandovi river, its islands, a bird sanctuary and the UNESCO Heritage Site of Old Goa. But unfortunately, thanks to the difficult access, and the ill-treatment meted out by the rain gods, the chapel is not permanently open to cult. Therefore, in order to protect it from decay, Fundação Oriente thought that having a cultural event that would bring people together and create awareness to the place, would prevent its abandonment. Thus, Monte Music Festival was born.

This year, the festival whilst celebrating 15 years of existence, continued to focus on the communication between different cultural traditions. The first day saw two concerts featuring – ‘String from three continents’ with sitar and percussion from India, an Arabic oud and an Iberian guitar; and ‘Song of Kindness’ featuring Western early flute and Celtic harp, Sitar and vocals from India. Going with the theme, ‘Paying homage to the divas of the land’, Monte Music Festival 2017 includes performances from the likes of Patricia Rozario, Joanne D’Mello, Sonia Shirsat and Ragini Rainu, who each tackled genres that encapsulated their respective areas of expertise.

Other artistes of national and international repute that enthralled the audience at Monte Music  Festival 2017, included the likes of Ustad Chhote Rahimat Khan (Sitar), Mayank Bedekar (percussion), Maestro Abhay Sopori (Santoor), Durjay Bhaumik (Tabla), etc .

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