Morning Music and Inaugural Address

Morning Music and Inaugural Address


There is no better way to start a literature festival than with a feast beyond words. Early-rising festival attendees were blessed with a performance of Indian music by renowned musicians Pandit Shubhendu Rao and Saskia Rao-de Haas, accompanied by Aditya Kalyanpur. What no one had expected was that Pandit Rao’s sitar had encountered airline mishaps. Thankfully, Pandit Rao was able to obtain another sitar in time; however, he explains that “an instrument is something you build a lifelong relationship with. I don’t have a personal rapport with (the new sitar) yet, and that takes many years (to build), but I hope I can do that in a few hours so I can continue my tour.” 

People walking in late would never have guessed that Pandit Rao was a stranger to the instrument in his hands. The audience was captivated as he positioned his fingers on the strings to play his solo. You could hear his mastery as a top soloist in India, as well as the profound thought he adds to his music. His fellow musicians joined in, adding dimensions to the music. Saskia, now India-based musician originally from the Netherlands, pioneer of the Indian Cello, bonded her playing with her husband’s to create strong, imaginative harmonies. Aditya accompanied them on the tabla, complementing the music with a rhythmic narrative. Their amazing performance acted as a bridge that connected JLF at Boulder with India, the founding place and location of the original Jaipur Literature Festival.

In the Inaugural Address, organizers and supporters of JLF at Boulder reminded people what it meant to bring the festival to Boulder. Sanjoy K. Roy talked about how the festival is a platform to “overlook differences and celebrate similarities across continents and socio-economic divides”. Namita Gokhale mentioned how the festival can become an “environment and an ecosystem to nurture readers and the business of books”. William Dalrymple pointed out the evident decline of book-reading in modern society, but also commented on the hopeful popularity of literature festivals around the world. 

The most valuable point of the festival is how it brings authors together to create dialogues on difficult topics. To hear people who dedicate their lives to narratives bring their knowledge to the festival is nothing short of magical and perhaps a starting point for bringing more readers into the fold.

The two patrons of the festival expressed their hopes and gratitude for the festival. As anchors of the tech and medical industry, they have found reasons to contribute to the Boulder festival because they too treasure the insight and beauty literature provides. Dr. Pariksith Singh, M.D., founder of the Tampa Bay Literary Society, gave his personal insight on the meaning of the festival. “What is shared experience in a shared setting? It is art. And we are now doing it right now. “ The conversations happening each year at Boulder can be seen as a spark of peace and understanding, and can hopefully be relayed to more places in the U.S. and around the world, as more satellite festivals start coming up and as attendees of the festival bring the concepts of JLF into their endeavors and daily encounters.

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