BronzAge in India (Hyderabad Literary Festival 2016) - by Jocelyn
Hyderabad: Full of rustic old-world charms, yet bustling with the vigour of a thriving city. The first thing that hit us when we arrived at the Rajiv Ghandi International Airport was the coolness of the night air; a stark contrast to that of Singapore, which was a good ten degrees higher. We were in town to perform at the opening ceremony of the Hyderabad Literary Festival 2016 alongside storyteller Rosemarie Somaiah, in the presence of some of India's literary giants, such as Anita Desai. Singapore was the festival's guest nation this year, and we were glad to grace the event with established Singapore writers such as Yong Shu Hoong and Rama Kannabiran, as well as the guest-of-honour, Mr Roy Kho, the Singapore Consul-General in Chennai.
Armed with instruments, scores and Rosemarie's compelling narratives, we spent the next day doing our best to deliver a unique, fusion performance of storytelling and music. This was affirmed by the multitude of positive responses that we received soon thereafter; many people felt that the gamelan accompanied the stories well, and that they loved the sound of our instruments! It being a high-profile event, we also received many media interviews thereafter, allowing us to bring about more awareness of gamelan as an art form - we were glad to be able to do so.
We also witnessed the warmth of the Hyderabadi people when we subsequently conducted our workshop at the Hyderabad Public School - we were greeted with a large, enthusiastic crowd of both young and old alike, eager to learn more about our instruments and music. A number of people were also keen to try their hand at playing our instruments, which was heartening to see as well. Some of these people, in turn, introduced us to their music and art, which was extremely interesting to learn about! There was a multitude of readings, panel discussions, workshops and cultural events going on across the venue, which fostered a friendly environment for all to learn about the arts.
We concluded our stay in Hyderabad with visits to renowned attractions such as the Golconda Fort - a wonderful, man-made wonder in its own right - and Charminar, which we loved! The rich culture of Hyderabad seemed great to us. We are grateful for the opportunity presented by the HLF organizers to perform for their prestigious event, and allowing us to discover the beauty of India.