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Concert From Bangladesh: Commemorating 50 years of Concert For Bangladesh

  • Published at 06:15 am July 18th, 2021
Concert From Bangladesh
Shezad Dawood's Concert From Bangladesh concept sketch Courtesy

Concert From Bangladesh is a mixed reality music concert, using cutting edge technology to take audiences on a virtual audio-visual journey through Bangladesh past and present, encompassing mystical Baul singers from rural Kushtia, experimental electronics and hip hop from the streets of Dhaka

Mixed reality music concert, Concert From Bangladesh, which expands on the 50 year legacy of Concert For Bangladesh, will begin on August 1. The original charity concert initiated by Ravi Shankar and George Harrison of Beatles' fame, was organized to aid the relief effort and refugee crisis during the Liberation War of 1971. 

Concert From Bangladesh is a groundbreaking digital collaboration between UBIK Productions (London) and Samdani Art Foundation (Dhaka) supported by the British Council Digital Collaboration Fund. The organisations have commissioned acclaimed British-South Asian artist Shezad Dawood to create a virtual reality stage for the concert, which will be released on August 1, 2021 via Pioneer Works’ (NYC) website.

Co-curated by Diana Campbell, Artistic Director of the Samdani Art Foundation (SAF), with Dhaka-born music producer and artist Enayet Kabir, together with assistant curators Ruxmini Choudhury and Shoummo Saha, Concert From Bangladesh will showcase a wealth of talent across varied Bangladeshi musical traditions, from mystical Baul singing to experimental electronics and socially engaged Dhaka hip hop, as well as raise funds for the Bangladeshi climate change and human rights charity, Friendship. 

Also read: Dhaka art summit: Bangladeshi masters on display

The concept was developed by Campbell together with multiple collaborators including Dawood. In the words of SAF Founder Nadia Samdani: "As Bangladesh celebrates 50 years of independence, we are delighted to be a part of producing a work that allows the world to listen to the wealth of music and culture found in our country, and to reconsider the role that music and art can play in banding people together to fight for a better and more equal future." 

Miranda Sharp, UBIK Productions Director, said: “We’re thrilled to be working with SAF and Shezad Dawood on this multidisciplinary, transnational project that pushes the boundaries of art and music production and develops new digital collaborative workflows.” 

Concert From Bangladesh will go live to audiences via Pioneer Works’ online platform on August 1, accompanied by live events at Yorkshire Sculpture Park (Wakefield) as part of Yorkshire Sculpture International and Pioneer Works (New York City), 50 years on from the original concert. Additional events will take place with Chisenhale Gallery (London), at Leeds City Varieties Music Hall (Leeds) and Srihatta Samdani Art Centre and Sculpture Park (Sylhet). These institutions are located in significant diasporic or rural Bangladeshi areas and will further de-centre and democratise the project’s reach, amplifying the experience to diverse Bangladeshi and international communities. 

The concert will take viewers on an expansive sonic journey spanning six centuries, beginning with renowned Baul singer Arif Baul accompanied by instrumental virtuosos Nazrul Islam, Saidur Rahman, and Sohel. This will be followed by a piece composed by Enayet and Nishit Dey exploring the shared musical language between Nazrul sangeet, classical raga and 90s jungle, by blending cutting edge electronic production and arrangements by Enayet, Provhat Rahman and Adittya Arzu aka Siaminium, with classical raga and Nazrul sangeet vocals by Meerashri Arshee and Moumita Haque, Bansuri flute by Jawaad Mustakim Al Muballig and sitar performance by Nishit Dey. The concert will end with the Bangladeshi hip hop duo Tabib Mahmud and 12-year-old Gully Boy Rana, whose socially engaged lyrics highlight some of the pressing issues the Concert aims to fundraise for. 

Shot against a green screen by a Bangladeshi team in Dhaka, Concert From Bangladesh will feature the musicians performing against shifting virtual sets that will immerse audiences in vibrant Dhaka streets, and transport them to the riverbanks of Gorai River Kushtia via mangrove ecosystems and Somapura Mahavihara, one of the best known monasteries in the Indian Subcontinent built in the 8th century, culminating with a performance in the iconic Beauty Boarding, a historically vibrant literary hub in Dhaka and a meeting place for intellectuals to this day.

The performances will be interspersed with archival and contemporary documentary footage, and the concert will be amplified by Augmented Reality assets, including a free filter activated through audiences’ phones and laptops, bringing 3D objects from the screen into viewers' immediate surroundings. The Concert’s graphic identity is developed by long-time Samdani Art Foundation collaborator Fraser Muggeridge Studio. Concert From Bangladesh will revisit the history of solidarity embedded in the historical Concert For Bangladesh: a concert album and ethically produced merchandise will be made available via the online streaming platform on Pioneer Works. All proceeds raised will be equally distributed between the performing musicians and Bangladeshi charity organisation, Friendship (led by Ashoka fellow and Schwab Foundation social entrepreneur Runa Khan), which provides healthcare for climate change refugees and promotes women’s rights in Bangladesh.

Musicians and Performers: 

Adittya Arzu aka Siaminium (Electronics and Recording Engineer)

Meerashri Arshee (Classical Raga vocalist)

Arif Baul (Baul vocalist and composer)

Nishit Dey (Composer, Sitar and Tabla player)

Enayet (Producer, Electronics, Composer)

Moumita Haque (Nazrul sangeet vocalist)

Nazrul Islam (Dhol player)

Gully Boy Rana and Tabib Mahmud (Hip hop artists)

Jawaad Mustakim Al Muballig (Bansuri flute player)

Provhat Rahman (Electronics)

Saidur Rahman (Harmonium player)

Shoummo Saha (Audio producer)

Sohel (Percussionist)


Concert From Bangladesh On Tour: 

(Further tour dates to be announced soon) 

August 1, 2021, 6pm Dhaka, 6pm London, 6pm New York: As-live stream across three time zones on pioneerworks.org/programs/concert-from-bangladesh 

August 1, 2021, entry from 7:15pm, screening at 9:15pm - Yorkshire Sculpture Park (Wakefield): An outdoor screening of Concert From Bangladesh and associated tours of sculptures in the grounds in English and Sylheit, in partnership with artist Thahmina Beg um. Book via: https://ysp.org.uk/events/shezad-dawood-concert-from-bangladesh-an-open-airfilm-screening 

August 8, 2021 - Pioneer Works (NYC): A screening of Concert From Bangladesh as part of the Second Sundays event series, which engages Pioneer Works disciplines through live music, food, artists' open studios, and interactive programs. 

August 31, 2021, 1pm - In the Neighbourhood (London): An outdoor screening of Concert From Bangladesh - https://www.allpointseastfestival.com/nbhd/ 

September 16, 2021, 7pm - Leeds City Varieties Music Hall (Leeds): A screening by Yorkshire Sculpture International in partnership with Hyde Park Picture House’s On the Road programme followed by a talk with Shezad Dawood. 




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