Georgie Pope gives a taste of a new musical adventure in Assam
Hello, This is Georgie Pope who runs the Songlines trips to the Jodhpur RIFF festival each October. I’ve just returned from a test run of our new Musical Adventure in Assam, which will run next April. I was joined by nine other adventurers (aged from two to seventy-two) to explore this lusciously beautiful but remarkably lesser-trodden north-east Indian state – a region of Vaishnavite monastries, tea plantations and extraordinary hospitality. We met musicians in their homes, tried out their instruments, explored the fabulous natural landscapes and ate far too much local food.
Half way through the trip, we hired a private ferry boat to cross the Brahmaputra and reach the magical island of Majuli. This vast and ever-morphing river island is a treasure-trove of art, music and wildlife. After checking in to our eco-huts-on-stilts – built in traditional Mishing tribe style from woven cane and bamboo – we set off across the island to meet my music-loving, dancing friend Govinda the monk.
Govinda, like the other celibate monks of the Kamalbari Satra, is slim and muscular, with long hair and a beautiful face which exudes spiritual warmth and wisdom. He’s one of the many musical hosts who enrich our tours with true passion for their subject. Like his fellow ‘inmates’, he’s a vegetarian who eats only what is grown within the monastery, and spends his days worshipping lord Vishnu (whose avatar as the flute-playing Krishna you may be more familiar with) by singing borgeet and dancing the extraordinarily refined Satriya dance.
After affording us a rare glimpse into one of the monk’s rehearsals, Govinda took us to meet his brother – married and living in a conventional extended-family home on the island – who is the music master at a local school. The teachers and children presented us with the spring time dance of the Bihu – the festival this tour is timed to coincide with – as well as renditions of Borgeet, endless chai and biscuits. We returned to our eco-camp aglow with the extraordinary musical ebullience and hospitalitiy of the island, which I can’t wait to return to next year.
Experience the magic of Jodhpur RIFF with Songlines Music Travel
India – Rajasthan Musical Expedition
In association with
15 days – Oct 8-22 2013
12 days – Oct 11-22 2013
I’m off to Rajasthan in October for another Musical Adventure, culminating in the Jodhpur RIFF – that sumptuous showcase of Rajasthani music and talent from around the world. To read more about my work on Indian music, visit www.soundtravelsltd.com
You can join Georgie on her trip to Jodhpur RIFF with Songlines Music Travel. With us you will get a chance to explore of a vibrant living culture featuring hand-picked musicians, whilst being guided by a artist or musicologist, so there’s time to absorb the atmosphere and get to know personalities as well as places.