By Ben Boddez
The Indian Summer Festival is returning for an 11-day multidisciplinary exhibition of cultures and conversations from South Asia and around the world. BeatRoute spoke to Sirish Rao, the festival’s artistic director, on his vision for bringing diverse cultures together and making a better world through conversation.
“It’s a festival for the curious mind,” says Rao. “It’s really about taking a more global approach to ideas and culture.”
The theme for this year’s festival is Tricksters, Magicians and Oracles. Rao curated a group of thinkers and artists who contemplate the world’s trajectory in their work.
“We’re all wondering where things are going,” he says. “We’ll have musicians, stand-up comedians, futurists and people talking about climate change and artificial intelligence. We’re looking at a huge variety of subjects.”
Rao highlights two musical exhibitions at the festival. Conjuring the Future is an exhibition of Indigenous music from a wide variety of cultures, and Strings for Peace is a collaboration between masters of guitar and the Indian sarod. Rao says these events play heavily into his theme of unification.
“It seems like human beings aren’t capable of much except creating a mess,” Rao says. “But when you get artists like these and you feel that energy, you’re reminded of what we can do when we’re at our best.”
Rao hopes combining aspects of Indian culture with other worldwide ideas will allow categories to evaporate and the art to flow more naturally. The festival is welcoming “a whole bunch of people who may not necessarily be in the same place otherwise,” and the conversation and collaboration on stage will also be what happens in the audience.
“Everything is an act of storytelling somehow,” he says. “We’re just saying to come along for the ride. It doesn’t matter if it’s traditional or contemporary, if it’s music or dance. There’s something interesting to see.”
Beatroute’s Pick’s of the Fest
Conjuring the Future
July 6 at the Imperial
Jarrett Martineau, the host of CBC’s Indigenous music showcase Reclaimed, assembles a variety of Canada’s best talent for over four hours of music. Performers include YouTube star Humble the Poet, Inuit throat singers PIQSIQ and Filipina poet and emcee HanHan.
Strings for Peace
July 12 at the Chan Centre
How often do you get to see an “undisputed master”? Amjad Ali Khan has dedicated his life to perfecting the sarod, a traditional Indian string instrument. He teams up with his two sons and Grammy-winning guitarist Sharon Isbin for a world premiere collaboration.
July 5 at the Roundhouse Community Arts and Recreation Centre
A show format born and popularized in London, 5×15 sees five speakers from diverse backgrounds get 15 minutes each to speak script-free on topics they’re passionate about. This year’s program includes TED Talk regular Pico Iyer and blues singer Arthur Flowers.
PAUSE Free Programming
July 8-14 in Vanier Park
A unique architectural installation in Vanier Park, the PAUSE Pavilion returns once again to the Indian Summer Festival and will be set up for a week of musical performances and talks, exhibitions of visual art, and, of course, food.
Trigger Me This
July 10 at SFU Woodward’s Goldcorp Centre for the Arts
How far is too far? It’s a question comedians have to ask themselves constantly in today’s world. Richard Side, creator of CBC’s The Debaters, and a cast of some of Canada’s funniest people will engage in discussion with the audience to find the answer.
Indian Summer Festival
July 4 to 14
Tix: $20-125, indiansummerfest.ca