The fourth edition of the annual “Echoes in the Valley” (EITV) music festival started on April 10 with this year’s theme ‘A Letter Home’, featuring Nepali musicians living abroad. Usually, EITV is a one-day music festival, but due to the pandemic, the organizers have turned it into a year-long virtual event.
The EITV festival has four programs starting this year: Confluence, EchoesMusicFund, Kaleidoscope, and Opener. EchoesMusicFund is sponsoring two candidates for music education, while Kaleidoscope offers a six-month long mentorship program for new Nepali artists. Likewise, under Confluence one can have engaging discussions on music with experts on the field and finally, the Opener allows emerging musicians to perform onstage and be exposed to larger audience.
For more information, ApEx sat down with EITV’s festival director, Bhushan Shilpakar. Excerpts:
How did this festival first come about?
Rizu Tuladhar and Sunit Kansakar from the band KantaDabDab are the festival’s creators and co-founders. Although Nepali music is diverse, not a single music festival is dedicated to traditional and folk music. They saw this as an opportunity to start something new and I jumped in right away when they came to me to brainstorm this idea in 2016. After the launch, our friends from Kutumba, Night and Phatcowlee joined forces in 2019.
What does a typical ETIV music festival look like?
In the three past editions of our festival, we transformed small neighborhoods into grand stages for musical conversations. In 2020, because of the pandemic, we cancelled our plans to have the festival in Kirtipur. But this year, we are changing our format and featuring artists/bands based outside Nepal. Hence this year’s theme is ‘A Letter Home,’ where each performance is followed by a candid conversation with the featured artist.
How much will it cost to get invited to the virtual festival?
Everything is free. A free dose of music and more from the safety and comfort of your homes. You just need to follow our Facebook, YouTube and Instagram pages.
Who will be featured in this year’s festival?
We have made sure that young musicians, especially those who are learning music at schools or are just starting to get into the scene, are given a chance to perform at our festival, and are able to share the stage with other more ‘well known’ musicians.
Just because it’s virtual doesn’t mean we will stop that tradition. We made an open call for applications for Opener and we selected nine artists/bands to kick start the festival with their performances. Aside from that, we have a great lineup this year. Some of them are: Amazumi (Belgium), Bartika Eam Rai (US), Chepang (US), Cloverleaves (UK/Nepal), Dheeraj Shrestha (Australia), Diwas Gurung (US), Kathmandinki (Finland), Sanskriti Shrestha (Norway), Shreya Rai (UK), Shristi (US/Nepal), Shubha G (UK), Shyam Nepali (US), The Heart of Nepal (US), Topi (US) and Wayam (Belgium/Nepal).
What kind of discussions will you have under Confluence?
This was a component we added in 2019, where we discuss important aspects of music. For the discussion we gather stakeholders including musicians, music educators, students, and policy makers. Confluence will be held under the theme of music rights and artistic freedom. There will be a keynote speaker, panel discussions and an open floor, everything would be live online. We will call for participation starting the second half of this year.
Will the festival be live-streamed like a concert or be recorded and made available only on YouTube?
We want to provide seamless entertainment to our audiences. Some band members are not in the same cities or country, so we need to keep in mind issues like time differences between artists/bands and the interviewers for the conversations, fluctuating internet access, power cuts, and other unforeseen glitches, so we decided to have all performances and conversations pre-recorded and premiered on respective dates.
Can you elaborate on EchoesMusicFund and Kaleidoscope scholarships?
We are always asking ourselves, how can we make things better or easier for young musicians, who simply love music but may have difficulties to continue pursuing it? For EchoesMusicFund this year we have collaborated with Kathmandu’s two finest music institutes—Kathmandu University Department of Music and Kathmandu Jazz Conservatory. They will pick two students who will receive scholarships on a need basis.
Kaleidoscope is a six-month-long fellowship program designed for emerging musicians that includes mentorship, musical research, exclusive artist residency in Banepa, public performances, professional studio recording time, and the experience of making a music video with the industry’s best. We will do an open call for this program before the first half of 2021.
When you say you’re only featuring Nepali artists living abroad, does that apply only to Openers or to all programs included in your festival?
We were expecting only Nepali artists living in Nepal to apply for Openers but PSNOBS applied from the UK. So we selected them, the rest are all from Kathmandu.
We admit we have our shortcomings. One of the things we could have done better was to reach out to more artists from all over Nepal and not only Kathmandu. We are constantly learning with every edition. Next year, if the pandemic is over and everything goes according to plan, we will have the most versatile show we have done till date.