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It’s bangin’! Indian group rounds out Bang on a Can fest • Brooklyn Paper

It’s bangin’! Indian group rounds out Bang on a Can fest

Bang on a drum: Members of Brooklyn Raga Massive will perform at the Bang on a Can Festival at the Brooklyn Museum on May 6.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

It will be a Massive show!

The experimental music group Bang on a Can will celebrate its 30th anniversary with a marathon day of music at the Brooklyn Museum on May 6. The eight-hour event will feature 16 music groups that push the boundaries of their genres, concluding with a set from Women’s Raga Massive, an almost all-female offshoot of the Indian classical music collective Brooklyn Raga Massive. The group’s modern take on a classic sound makes it a perfect fit for the experimental show, said the festival’s director.

“It’s a big thing for us to present an ever increasing range of artists who are stretching the boundaries of music,” said Kenny Savelson, the executive director of Bang on a Can. “This group of artist based here are taking Indian tradition and they’ve basically been pushing forward into new territory.”

Women’s Raga Massive will perform a 30-minute set of different arrangements inspired by classical and South Indian folk music. The group uses that musical tradition as a framework to improvise, and then adds influences from the diverse cultures of Brooklyn, said the collective’s co-founder.

“Classical traditions often follow certain rules — musically and culturally — which can sometimes work to your advantage and being free within these rules, especially in improvised music, can stretch your imagination and build a strong foundation,” said Trina Basu. “As artists living in Brooklyn, we are surrounded by so many different cultures and people and that in itself is incredibly inspiring.”

The music collective identifies with the boldness of the experimental music movement, said Basu, and with the music marathon’s focus on female performers.

“It takes organizations like Bang on a Can to push the boundaries and provide platforms for creative artists to make the music they want,” said Basu. “We’re really honored to be a part of this festival and bring in some of the awesome women and core members of the Brooklyn Raga Massive collective. As female instrumentalists and improvisers, we are still a minority, but we’re out there doing our thing and want to make our a presence heard.”

Bang on a Can Marathon at Brooklyn Museum [200 Eastern Pkwy. between Washington and Flatbush avenues in Prospect Heights, (718) 852-7755, www.bangonacan.org]. May 6, 2–10 pm. Women’s Raga Massive at 9:30 pm. $16 suggested donation before 5 pm.

Tablra rasa: Roshni Samla with the tabla, a classical Indian percussion instrument not often played by women.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

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