Can a South Asian Identity be Expressed through Music?



From the majestic Himalayan peaks to the waters of the Indian Ocean, South Asia boasts of diverse landscapes. So too are the inhabitants of this region with their rich cultural heritage, distinct musical traditions and exceptional linguistic diversity. Permeating all aspects of life, music acts as a conduit that communicates a plethora of emotions, traditions, values and narratives of the lives of the people. From farmers of Sri Lanka who sing on their night watch to keep their crops safe from wild animals to boatmen in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh whose singing pierces placid rivers, to exuberant rhythms that infuse family gatherings with unparalleled energy, and the songs of the Afghan people, music in South Asia takes many forms and tells many stories as it accompanies the ebb and flow of more than a billion lives.


Although diverse in form and style, South Asian music is the creative expression of a people living in close proximity to each other. Music evolves with people and there are similarities as there are differences as genres influence each other. Collectively, South Asian music stands out on the global stage with its unique timbre, tempo and dynamics.


Ambassador Nirupama Menon Rao, co-founder of the South Asian Symphony Foundation leads this pioneering webinar. She is joined by T. M. Krishna, Vocalist and Author, Neil Nongkynrih, Concert Pianist and Founder of the Shillong Chamber Choir, Ahmad Naser Sarmast, Founder, Afghanistan National Institute of Music, Ali Sethi, Vocalist and Author and Ravibandhu Vidyapathi, Dancer and Choreographer to discuss this thought-provoking topic.

social friendly logo_white.png