Every time Konarak Reddy's national guitar competition comes to an end, he promises he will never do it again. Fortunately, that has not been the case and despite overwhelming odds, creating a guitar community and building bonds through music has been too noble a cause to abdicate. Much has changed for Bengaluru, once a city where musicians jammed together in parks, on the streets or any place they could find, really. The Global Guitar Gita 2018, which kicks off on Friday, will give young musicians a taste of the collaborative, inclusive musicians who once made up the local scene.
"Konarak has been inviting guitarists to perform for over a decade," says Kirtana Kumar, Konarak's wife. "In 2014, he added an all-India fingerstyle competition, which we organised again in 2016." They found, though, that despite the enthusiasm, finger-style guitarists are a rare lot in India and they found that despite technical skills, most finger-style guitarists were content to imitate their favourite heroes. "Developing one's own voice is very important though, that's what Konarak believes in most of all," says Kirtana. This year, therefore, the floor was thrown open to all kinds of guitarists, as long as they have a certain musicality.
The Global Guitar Gita 2018, which was named after a paper, Guitar Gita, that Konarak wrote many years ago, will begin with performances by international artists. World Guitar Nights, scheduled for October 19, has already brought a host of guitarists to the city, including Don Ross, Peter Finger, Dylan fowler, Bob Bonastre and Claus Boesser-Ferrari. Musicians like Tony Das and Prakash Sontakke will judge the 14 finalists on Sunday - "All of the musicians who have made it to the show are from B Towns. That's the most interesting thing - we have musicians from Sikkim, Darjeeling, Jaipur and Bhopal."
Where's the fun in bringing down a bunch of international musicians if we don't interact with them? Guitar Clinic, also part of the lineup this weekend, will fix this problem as foreign artists who come to perform don't always get the chance to meet local talent. At this session, musicians can interact with master guitarists, participate in a workshop and network. Teachers and students can circulate picking up techniques, ideas and improvisation skills.
"The internet has changed a lot, for the better, in many ways but we have also become more anonymous," Kirtana remarks. "Moreover, everybody learns from Youtube today, interacting with other musicians is minimal. That's another thing we want to address, and maybe bring back the human bonds that make music so special."
What: Global Guitar Gita 2018
When: Oct. 19 to 21
Where: Max Mueller Bhavan