UBIK Productions (London) and Samdani Art Foundation (Dhaka), supported by the British Council Digital Collaboration Fund, is going to organise a groundbreaking mixed reality digital concert titled ‘Concert From Bangladesh’ on 1 August 2021 with a view to recalling the history of solidarity embedded in the historical ‘Concert For Bangladesh’.
All proceeds raised will be equally distributed between the performing musicians and Bangladeshi charity organisation Friendship which provides healthcare for climate change refugees and promotes women’s rights in Bangladesh.
The organisations have commissioned acclaimed British-South Asian artist Shezad Dawood to create a virtual reality stage for a concert to be released on 1 August 2021 via Pioneer Works’ (NYC) website, expanding on the 50-year legacy of ‘Concert For Bangladesh’, the original charity concert initiated by Ravi Shankar and George Harrison of Beatles' fame, in aid of the relief effort and refugee crisis during the Bangladesh Liberation War of 1971.
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.
SAF Founder Nadia Samdani said, “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 on the Pioneer Works’ digital platform on 1 August 2021, accompanied by live events at Yorkshire Sculpture Park (Wakefield). 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. 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.
The performances will be interspersed with archival and contemporary documentary footage, and the concert will be amplified by Augmented Reality assets, 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.
A concert album and ethically produced merchandise will be made available via the online streaming platform on Pioneer Works.
As Bangladesh celebrates 50 years of its extraordinary journey as a nation, this year also marks 70 years since British Council opened the doors of its first office in Dhaka. Over the course of this shared history British Council has built strong people-to-people connections between the UK and Bangladesh across English, education, arts and culture.