Tagore and the West: A Production by American Alumni Association, Bangladesh
The program presented an aspect of Rabindranath Tagore that is generally confined to scholarly books and articles -- Tagore and his relationship with the West. The program, probably the very first of its kind, covered Tagore's deep impact in the west at a particular point in time, his rather ambivalent relationship with the west and his continuing and increasing relevance in the contemporary world.
The program was presented by the American Alumni Association (AAA), Bangladesh as a special tribute to Tagore on his 150th birth anniversary. Welcoming a jam-packed audience, President of the AAA, Mr. Tahsin Aman said that in a world that is increasingly broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls, Tagore's message of the universal human being is of particular contemporary relevance. Briefly outlining his vision for the AAA, Mr. Aman said that the AAA was a platform that promoted fraternity and networking between those who had studied in American Colleges and Universities and since members of the AAA potentially belonged to all nationalities and denominations, it was an ideal forum to promote internationalism and global understanding, while contributing to the social and economic development of Bangladesh. Other speakers included Ms. Lauren Lovelace from the American Embassy in Dhaka.
The program was presented in six segments, through a rich and dynamic combination of songs (solos and choruses), dances, orchestral representations, narrations, poetry and visuals. Starting with the Gitanjali and its reception in the west, the Nobel Prize and Tagores soaring global popularity, the program went on to cover Tagore's travels in the West; the influence of western music on Tagore's own music; his Paintings which he had declared were his gift to the west and finally the relevance of Tagore in the contemporary world.
The program, which was based on extensive research, was conceived and directed by Mr. Shumon Sengupta (who is from India and is currently serving as the Country Director of Save the Children --UK in Bangladesh), with support and guidance from renowned Rabindrasngeet Artist Mrs Nandita Yasmin and Dance Pioneer and Cultural Activist - Mrs. Lubna Marium. Brilliant support was provided on the narrations by Iffat Nawaz and Karim Waheed who demonstrated excellent rapport and helped hold the entire program together by their sensitive narrations and poetry readings.
The highlight of the evening clearly were the choruses, particularly the ones (Bisshobina robe and Akash bhora) presented with western orchestral arrangement and outstanding solos by Nandity Yasmin, Ananya Banerjee, Abhaya Dutta, Avik Deb and Farheen Khan Joyeta.
Five young and talented dancers from Shadhona, under the direction of Lubna Marium, performed extremely well choreographed dances, using various dancing styles, costumes and props.
The was a first of its kind -- innovative, lively and immaculately presented and received spontaneous and overwhelming appreciation from the audience, which had representatives from many nationalities. The program presented a different aspect of Tagore and in a format that is international in character, transcending national and linguistic boundaries.
Production: Tahsin Aman
Conception: Shumon Sengupta
Direction: Shumon Sengupta, with Nandita Yasmin and Lubna Marium
Vocals: Nandita Yasmin, Shumon Sengupta, Abhaya Dutta, Ananya Banerjee, Farhin Khan Joyeeta, Avik Deb, Ashikur Rahman, Mustafizur Rahman Turjo, Samia Ahsan
Dancers: Tahmina Anwar Anika, Maleeha M Khan, Shammy Akter, Amit Chowdhury, Arpita Shome, Shabbir Ahmed Khan Biju (Courtesy Shadhona);
Samina Husain Prema
Sets: Rehana Haque Poly (courtesy Shadhona)
Narration: Iffat Nawaz, Karim Wahid
Accompanying instruments: Iftekar Alam Dollar, Asit Biswas, Iftekar Hossain Sohel, Md. Nasiruddin, Prodip Kumar Ray
Visuals: Oniket Alam
Sound: Shihab, Soundstorm
Program Sponsor: Mercantile Bank Limited