Vancouver's Festival for Curious Minds features musicians, performing artists and storytellers

May 26 2021, 4:35 pm

The transformative power of the arts will be showcased when the Indian Summer Festival (ISF) celebrates its 11th anniversary starting next month.

From June 17 to July 17 (except July 1), ISF presents a series of 10 curated online and hybrid events spanning from music, performing arts and literary discussions.

According to Sirish Rao, Indian Summer Festival’s Artistic Director, this year’s lineup will feel like an artistic feast.

Shapeshifter By Jag Nagra (Submitted)

“I think of the festival as a feast. The two share the same root word. So when I’m programming it, I imagine it as a bustling, garrulous long table meal, where old friends meet and new ones are made,” said Rao in an interview with Daily Hive.

“And all good feasts have something for every guest – food that is familiar as well as some new things, some surprises.

“The arts give us levity, solace and help us make sense of our predicament and imagine our futures.”

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The theme of ISF 2021 is Shapeshifting, which Rao explained is a reflection of how people adapted during the pandemic.

“We’ve all had to shapeshift a lot in this past year, from the way we work, the way we travel or don’t, and even how we spend time with our loved ones and friends,” Rao said.

Shapeshifting is possibly what we need to save us from the failure of our own structures, from the frightening politics of domination, and to transcend this moment. Who better to look to than artists, who are often consummate shapeshifters?

The artists at this year’s festival show us that there are so many kinds of shapeshifting – between cultural identities, myth and reality, fluid identities. Take for example musical bridge builders like Zakir Hussain, Anoushka Shankar, Ruby Singh, Mohamed Assani and Naadaleela Ensembles whose performances at the festival will take us to that exciting place where languages, cultures and histories meet.”

Zakir Hussain (Paul Joseph/Submitted)

Festival-goers can purchase digital tickets for individual online performances, a pass that offers access to the whole digital festival online, and an ISF2021 Premium Pass. The latter provides exclusive inside access to the Opening Party Premiere and chat roulette social hour, a meal-for-two from Vij’s and wine from Volcanic Hills delivered to Lower Mainland residences, and an artist-curated box with goods from Punjabi Market.

There are also two in-person events during this year’s festival to check out. Go on a self-guided walking tour of the Punjabi Market by downloading an audio tour narrated by artists, shop owners and community members to your smartphone.

Then book a time to visit Lobe Studio – the only 4D sound studio of its kind in North America – for Vox.Infold. The project is a co-presentation with Vancouver International Jazz Fest and features a vocal ensemble “that uses traditional and emergent sonic practices to create compositions that express the vast spectrum of the human experience.”

I can hope that audience members feel some kind of transformation,” said Rao. “That they’re able to leave their daily concerns for a while and be invited to the cosmos that the incredible artists at this year’s festival have created.

There is nothing that defines human beings more than storytelling. That’s what the arts do. They help us imagine, and importantly, to imagine together. We need it for our existence.”

Indian Summer Festival 2021

When: June 17 to July 17, 2021 (except July 1)
Time: Various times
Where: Virtual and in-person
Cost: Various, purchase tickets and passes online

Daniel ChaiDaniel Chai

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