Masala in this year’s Parramasala ”¦

Phillip Rolfe

By Neena Badhwar

Phillip Rolfe, festival director Parramasala – the Australian Festival of South Asian Arts, has this year lined up an interesting mix of artists from the region that include world-renowned artists – including Australian premieres by Mavin Khoo with O.S. Arun and by The Chandralekha Group, accompanied by the Gundecha Brothers. ”˜Baul Shilpi’ singers from Bengal with Parramatta Town Hall forecourt performances by   the outstanding Madhumita Roy Kathak Dance Company from Kolkata on the Outdoor Stage in Church Street, as part of a daily free program. There will be outstanding music, dance and other visual delights accompanied by food stalls, music, Indians crafts and participation from local artists.

Said Phillip to TIDU, “This years’ program is much bigger which will go on for up to 8 days.   The range will appeal to different audiences. There is something for everyone from Harmonic Choir to Sufi music. We have tried to create variety and diversity.”

Says he, “Do come and get involved as artists from all around the world have been invited. It’s a rare combination and a great opportunity to learn and experience art and culture as there’s everything for people from all backgrounds to enjoy.”

“We are presenting a premiere performance of brilliant dancer and choreographer, Mavin Khoo, from Malaysia, who is trained in both western contemporary and Indian classical styles. Challenging notions of gender and tradition, Khoo’s original ideas and techniques make him one of the world’s most in-demand artists in his genre. He is accompanied by the master Carnatic musician O.S. Arun and his group from India in his solo dance production, Devi in Absolution, at the Riverside Theatre. “

“We have films with South Asian focus as we are showing a retrospective on the great Satyajit Ray as well as films from Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Australia, Canada and the US. There’s a documentary on Rabindranath Tagore and some Bollywood glitz and glamour type of movies too. ”

“Chandralekha group from Chennai present ”˜Sharira’ – that involves contemporary style of dance which just quite stunning and an original piece of work.”

While last year the weather was not very kind though the interest in the festival from the community was great. Says Phillip, “We are keeping our fingers crossed hoping that the weather will co-operate.”

This year Parramasala will be held from Sunday 30 October to Sunday 6 November, starting with the 2011 Deepavali Fair at Parramatta Stadium on Sunday 30 October.

There are workshops that will give the opportunity to engage with the artists.

“We have kept the tickets at affordable level so that people not just see a performance rather they can afford to come to more things and experience the festival as an intensive art and cultural experience.”

And what happened to cricket, that was there last year, says Phillip, “Oh there was not a good response to it. So there is no justification to have it in the program this year. Although we have not ruled it out completely. As the awareness about the festival grows we may add cricket back in.”

“It’s really how the community responds. We are only playing by the community’s involvement. You may hear of a big surprise for next years’ festival although we can’t say anything yet.”

So how do you want the community to participate, says Phillip, “Just come and be part of the crowd, witness free outdoor events, films, documentaries and even buy a ticket or two to some performances if you like any. There is world on offer right here in Parramatta and it’s really a very special festival to entice one and all .”

Free Masala Markets every day

Every day during Parramasala, Town Hall Square will come alive with an extensive free program of music, dance and market stalls.

Featured artists appearing during the week include the Madhumita Roy & Company from Kolkata (one of India’s most highly regarded Kathak dance groups) the dynamic  Tablatronics and Sekaa Gong Tirta Sinar,  Sydney’s acclaimed Balinese gamelan orchestra. With their distinctive costumes and instruments and infectious high spirits, Baul Shilpi from Bangladesh is one of the world’s few touring ensembles of Baul singers and musicians. Australian tabla virtuoso Bobby Singh will perform with two innovative ensembles, Circle of Rhythm and Rasa Duende.

On Sunday 6 November at 8pm, join us for our free Closing Night Concert featuring The Bombay Royale who serve up a funky, bizarre and very danceable music tribute to the crazy world of vintage Indian cinema.

Surrounding the outdoor stage, our street market will serve up a delicious slice of life ”“ everything from chai tea to saris. Make the Masala Market the place to start your Parramasala experience before heading off on a short walk to see a fantastic ticketed  performance or exhibition.

4 November 2011
11AM – 9:30PM
5 November 2011
11AM – 9:30PM
6 November 2011
11AM – 9:30PM


Town Hall Square
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Ruchi Sanghi Group of Dance

Ruchi Sanghi Dance Company is one the most well known Kathak and Indian folk Ensembles in Sydney. Their recent performances include festivals such as Aroma, Vivid Sydney, Australian Dance Festival, Goddess Divine Energy (Art Gallery of NSW), National Fields Day at Orange and musicals ”˜The Nautch Girls’ and ”˜Nine Flavors’ (collaboration with El Duende Flamenco). The Artistic Director Ruchi Sanghi is the disciple of the legendary Kathak maestro Natraj Shri Gopi Krishna and Jaipur gharana maestro Shri Rajendra Gangani. Their repertoire ranges from exploration of rhythms from North India to stories and images of the lavish courts of India to the pure dance energy of Taraana.

The four highly accomplished musicians accompanying the dancers are;

Aparna Nagashayana (vocals)

Abhijit Dan (tabla)

Peter Schaefer (sitar)

Aashis Shrestha (harmonium)


3 November 2011
9:30PM – 10:15PM
6 November 2011
6PM – 6:45PM


Town Hall Square


Sufi Music



On the final evening of this year’s festival, we are very proud to present a special landmark concert featuring David Hykes and the Harmonic Choir with Dr Madan Gopal Singh, Chaar Yaar and Dhruv Sangari. This promises to be a joyous music experience and a fitting finale to the festival program on the main stage at Riverside Theatres.  This concert will be a unique combination of harmonic chant, sufi and qawwali music and song with improvisation between the singers and musicians.

David Hykes is the western world’s most significant pioneer of overtone singing and harmonic chant. He and members of the Harmonic Choir are renowned for regular international collaborations with the traditions and teachers of eastern and western wisdom and sacred art.

Dr Madan Gopal Singh is a treasure-house of Sufi music and folk poetry. At music festivals around the world, he has performed Punjabi translations of Rumi, Attar, Rilke, Neruda, Brecht, Rabindranath Tagore and even John Lennon. Singh has composed music for many films and been invited to sing at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington, and the closing ceremony of Belgium’s Festival of India.

Dhruv Sangari’s repertoire includes Persian and Arabic poetry, Panjabi and Hindvi Sufi poetry and Urdu poetry. He has performed both classical and qawwali music all over India and has worked under many great artistes such as Ustad Iqbal Khan, Vidya Rao and Madan Gopal Singh. Sangari has regularly pushed musical boundaries in his collaborations with the likes of Mexican saxophonist Ariel Guzik, Egyptian dancer Ahmed Faares, British electronic musician Vishal Gopal, and Russian violinist Gennady Lavrentyev.

This is truly an unmissable music event. One concert only in Parramatta..

Artists:  David Hykes (USA/France), Timothy Hill (USA), Andrei Kivu (Romania/France), Seth Markel (USA), Joel Bluestein (USA), Andreas Konvicka (Sweden), Dr Madan Gopal Singh, Dhruv Sangari, Pritam Ghosal (sarod player), Deepak Castelino (guitar & banjo), Gurmeet Singh Khokhar


6 November 2011
6PM – 8PM


Riverside Theatre, Riverside Theatres
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Full $54, Conc $44, Groups 8+ $49

Click above to buy tickets online or call Riverside Theatres (61 2) 8839 3399   (61 2) 8839 3399 or Ticketmaster 136 100

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