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River of symphony flows in Kashi as G20 Orchestra enthralls audience with ‘Sur Vasudha’

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VARANASI, Aug 27: In the true spirit of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’, 101 musicians and vocalists from
G20 member nations and invited countries came together in Uttar Pradesh’s Varanasi and dazzled
an audience with a spellbinding orchestral performance.
Titled ‘Sur Vasudha’, the performance by the G20 Orchestra was put together under India’s
presidency of the influential grouping on Saturday night to mark the closing of the Culture Ministers’
Meeting in the city.
The cast featured 61 musicians and vocalists from India and 40 musicians and vocalists from G20
nations and invitee countries. The artistes brought their traditional musical instruments and they
played in perfect harmony in Benares — the ancient city of music.
A Brazilian conga met an Indian mridangam, a Scottish bagpipe played in symphony with an Indian
shehnai, Italian violins played along with the sarangi, the English flute in accord with the bansuri, and
the French horn synced with the strains of the India sitar.
Delegates from the UK, Germany, Saudi Arabia, Mexico and international bodies such as UNESCO,
ICOMOS and ICOM attended the event, describing it as “mesmerising” and a “stunning and beautiful
The nearly hour-long performance held at a convention centre here was attended by Union
Ministers Arjun Ram Meghwal and Meenakashi Lekhi, and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi
Adityanath, besides a large number of G20 delegates, and officials from the Ministry of Culture.
The opening piece of the enthralling concert was ‘Sur Vasudha’, which introduced the audience to all
the sounds of the G20 Orchestra.
It was followed by the piece ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ (the world is one family), named after the
theme of India’s G20 Presidency, as 29 languages and cultural imprints from different countries
merged into a river of symphonic choir.
Each vocalist, wearing their traditional costumes, sang ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ in his or her own
language in unison, bringing a magical experience on stage as visuals of smiling faces of people from
across the world played on a giant screen in the backdrop.
The ensemble of musicians included a group from the Chennai Strings Orchestra, a performer from
Turkiye who played the traditional Turkish instrument ‘qanun’, a Dutch musician playing a harp,
besides a host of international vocalists and musicians.
“It was such a beautiful, special moment, and each one had the opportunity to know each other and
know about and share their culture, and it was a very, very special, unique moment tonight,” vocalist
Eleonora Bianchini told PTI, soon after the concert ended.
Vocalists from Brazil, China, Japan, Mexico, Argentina, Russia, and Canada among others, added to
the ethereal atmosphere heightened by beautiful stagecraft which also sought to mimic the ghats of
Ganga in Varanasi.
Brazilian vocalist Tais Reganelli said, “Music has no language and the orchestra was a confluence of
many languages and cultures and all artistes literally sang ‘One Earth. One Family. One Future’ in the
spirit of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam”.
Born in Switzerland, Reganelli spent the formative years of her life in Brazil and currently lives in
Portugal — representing the idea of shared heritage.
“I don’t feel, I belong to one place. And, coming to India and performing here was an extraordinary
experience,” she told PTI.

Among the performers, several have come to India for the first time as part of this orchestra, which
has also given them an opportunity to bond with fellow artists.
“It was amazing for me, and fantastic. I am happy to be part of this project. It is my first visit to India
and I wish that I can come to India again, soon,” Mandy Chan, a vocalist from China, told PTI.
The music for the concert was composed by an Indian duo — vocalist and conductor Soumyojit Das
and pianist Sourendro — who was also a part of the ensemble.
The artistes from across the globe earlier practised together through internet platforms. Later, they
all practised in Varanasi after arriving here a week ago.
In a post-concert interaction with PTI, Soumyojit Das said, “We (he and Sourendro) were asked by
the Ministry of Culture to compose, direct and conduct this orchestra. We worked for the last six or
seven months, and brought this performance to all of you.”
“It has six pieces, and we just wanted to establish the basic ethos of G20, especially at a cultural
meet, that it is truly ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’,” Das said.
The six pieces in sequence were — ‘Sur Vasudha’, ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’, ‘One Earth’, ‘One
Family’, ‘One Future’ and ‘Continuum’.
This last piece of the concert marks the continuity of the G20 as India will later this year hand over
the presidency of the bloc to Brazil.
In that spirit, Meghwal and Adityanath handed over the ceremonial baton to the performers from
Brazil on stage.
Union Culture Secretary Govind Mohan on Friday told reporters here that Indonesia, which held the
G20 presidency immediately before India’s tenure, had put together a G20 Orchestra that had
performed at Borobudur.
“Our minister Arjun Ram Meghwal had made a commitment in Indonesia during a G20 meeting to
continue this special orchestra, and ‘Sur Vasudha’ is part of that commitment,” he said.
The concert celebrates India and its ethos of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ that also is at the core of
India’s G20 presidency, Mohan said. (PTI)

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