Bhangra heads for Surrey and the brand new City Hall in partnership with Naad Foundation

City of Bhangra Festival
At the kick-off of the City of Bhangra Festival at SFU Woodwards on Thursday night. Photo by Chandra Bodalia
IN an inspired twist on the traditional mehfil style, Naad Foundation and Vancouver International Bhangra Celebration (VIBC) join forces to create an evening of global fusion featuring Saanjh.

A mehfil is traditionally a gathering or evening of courtly entertainment featuring poetry, or Indian or Pakistani classical music (particularly Hindustani classical music) and dance, performed for a small audience in an intimate setting. Today they are generally given in the homes of especially avid music lovers. The Media Arts Mehfil was scheduled for Friday, May 30, from 7 p.m. in the City of Surrey’s new home at 13450 104 Avenue.

Saanjh is a Punjabi word which means “connecting, sharing, partnering,” an apt description for a talented group of Vancouver musicians from around the world creating a unique and mesmerizing mosaic of North Indian classical, progressive rock, jazz, funk, Punjabi folk and Caribbean groove. This eclectic evening of improvisation and collaboration by artists, composers, teachers and producers is sure to have you on your feet. Performers include Bruce Harding (flute/bass), Sandy Khaira (drums / percussion), Coach Sandhu (guitar), Gagandeep Singh (vocals), Amarjeet Singh (tabla), Vidya Sundar (vidya veena), Baljit Singh (dilruba), and Tony Boughen (keyboard).

Naad Foundation is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to preserving and promoting the music, dance and literary traditions of South Asia. Since 2006, the Foundation has dreamed of a building and institution where the artistic and cultural traditions of the world could come together under one roof. Today, Naad Foundation provides an environment where youth can learn music, dance and languages, and at the same time absorb the values of a rich cultural and musical heritage.

City of Bhangra Festival at SFU Woodwards
Founded in 2004, the not-for-profit Vancouver International Bhangra Celebration Society (VIBC) has worked to elevate the art form of bhangra and strengthen Vancouver’s multicultural community. VIBC accomplishes this by producing the City of Bhangra Festival, which has grown to become the largest of its kind in North America. VIBC’s vision is to embrace the spirit of celebration, generosity and community that is bhangra, and to welcome people from all cultures to enjoy the beats of this beautiful art form.

“I am pleased to welcome the 2014 Bhangra Celebration to Surrey and to our new City Hall,” says Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts. “Surrey’s cultural diversity is one of its strengths and hosting a VIBC event is a great addition to the City’s vibrant arts and culture community.”

Also coming up are two very different interpretations of Pakistani music, and some complementary local artists. Saieen Zahoor is a leading Sufi musician from Pakistan, who has spent most of his life singing in Sufi shrines. He produced his first record in 2006, when he was nominated for the BBC World Music awards, and emerged as theBest BBC voice of the year 2006. Saieen is not his first name but a Sindhi honorific title.

In 1989 he performed on a concert stage for the first time at the All Pakistan Music Conference, which brought him into musical prominence. Subsequently he has emerged as a leading performer in Pakistan, frequently appearing on TV and in concerts. Zahoor has also given concerts in UK, Japan, Ireland, India, Canada, and Norway.

Saieen Zahoor will perform on Saturday, May 31 at the Vogue Theatre, 918 Granville St., 8 p.m.

For more information about the Media Arts Mehfil and Ekta featuring Saieen Zahoor: