In Conversation With Bhushan Shilpakar | Echoes In The Valley 2019

Echoes in the valley is an annual music festival which is set for the musical mission of preserving and promoting the heritage and folk tunes of Nepal that are on the brink of disappearance since 2017. It aims to do so by creating a platform to showcase local music, art, culture, and by encouraging knowledge exchange. To find out in depth the inspiration behind this mission and to know about what’s in store for the new edition of the festival, we reached out to Bhushan Shilpakar, one of the directors of the event who put an end to our queries.

Find out below the interview with Mr. Bhushan Shilpakar to get a deeper insight on “Echoes In The Valley”:

When did this realization that there is a need to preserve our tunes and heritages, and a greater need to archive them and pass it down to the upcoming generation come into sight? What was the inspiration behind this whole initiative?
The band, Kanta DAb DAb, has traveled to numerous music festivals in many different parts of the world. While on these tours, they began to realize that there’s a strong lack of representation of Nepal in the world music scene. Echoes in the Valley (EITV) is not just a music festival, it’s an effort to ensure that Nepali traditional music is appreciated, in old and new forms, in Nepal and beyond.

We have our own authentic unique sound that the world is looking for– we have them, we just need to brand ourselves better and present ourselves to audience outside Nepal. We believe that festivals like EITV will put Nepal on the world’s music map; these are the kinds of endeavours that leverage young Nepali musicians to perform on a global stage.

Why did you name this festival “Echoes in the Valley”; why not “Echoes in Nepal” or “Echoes in the Hills”? Is there something symbolic to the name you’ve chosen?
The festival’s base is in Kathmandu valley, a bowl-like structure with surrounding hills. We like the concept of “echoes” of sounds reverberating in this space, getting louder, rising and slowly spreading. But we aren’t only focusing on music created within the valley, we do bring Nepali sounds from outside the valley too. This year, for instance, we have a Chyabrung ensemble from Eastern Nepal; Thadi/Deuda singer from Karnali playing with Kathmandu’s Night band; a Gurung ensemble from Western Nepal performing the Ghatu dance; and Hyolmo singers from Helambu.

With the first edition of the festival being held in Ason and the second at Banepa, I was curious to know if there is a special significance to this? Could you tell us in depth the reasons for choosing these local spaces for the festival?
Ason is the heart of the valley in some ways and is probably the oldest marketplace in Kathmandu. Most people may not know, but there are traditional stages, or dabus, scattered around Ason. These inbuilt stages, we felt, were perfect for the kind of music festival we wanted to see happen in Kathmandu. We wanted to transform an unlikely space where one buys vegetables into a venue for a free international music festival. Choosing such a venue also means that we are attracting a different and more localized Nepali crowd when music festivals can unknowingly cater to a rather exclusive group of people, especially if they are ticketed.

For us, the ultimate core of this festival are the local communities, who practically run the entire show. It’s because of them that this festival exists in the first place, and their enthusiasm is what encourages us to look forward to collaborate and organize its each edition. They not only support the festival but they also take initiatives and ownership, which we believe will make the festival a greater success in the long run.

We believe that artistic endeavours should also happen beyond the saturated capital city of Kathmandu. EITV is an annual, we hold the Resonance editions in between alternate years; last year we did one in Banepa and we will do the next one in 2020 outside of Kathmandu.
In conjunction with the main festival, we invite international visiting artists to engage in a creative process that enables them to come up with an amalgamation of new sounds with local musicians. Visiting musicians are expected to stay in the local musicians’ homes to learn ethnic music at the source and together create unique musical work and share and learn from each other. This process has not only enabled each party to study different methods of music-making but it has also helped them understand each other better as musicians. This, we believe will help local musicians grow.

article posted by:Riju Tuladhar, Echoes In The Valley