Its just a three-day event, yet the preparations take years. The annual Banga Sammelan is a true test of organizational skill and grit - planning, fundraising, logistics and creativity. The tone for each year’s edition is set on the opening day itself with a gala opening ceremony, involving choreographers from the host city and Kolkata. In each Banga Sammelan, Bengalis, thus, look forward to a new theme and a new sparkle of creativity. San Jose – host of the 2009 Banga Sammelan, promises to continue with the same tradition. NABC2009 Cultural Group Chairperson Prasenjit Biswas met with the Kolkata crew in the beginning of this year and sketched for us an outline of the event. Film director Indranil Chowdhury is developing the concept and has been entrusted with most of the visuals while the choreography will be directed by the internationally acclaimed dancer, Tanusree Shankar. She was in San Jose last month conducting workshops and training sessions for the California team. This is the first time Tanusree is participating in Banga Sammelan and feels “grateful that (the team) had that kind of confidence in me and wanted me to choreograph the event”. She has been very impressed with the US cast – quite a large and diverse group of 76 dancers from 4-35 years old. She found them “…very motivated and always ready to learn in spite of their daily workloads”. She also emphasized the fact that the participants never missed a class even with their extremely hectic and busy schedules. She left after the brief stint and would return later, but the team is continuing with the rigorous pratice schedule every week. When asked about the message that the ceremony would convey, Tanusree was quick to point out that it would be of "...fun, frolic and celebration...since any opening ceremony is a happy occasion".
The musical score for the opening ceremony is being composed by Joy Sarkar – one of the best contemporary composers of Kolkata. This is the second year in a row that Joy would have this honor. “Banga Sammelan is no doubt the largest international cultural event of the Bengalis”, Joy says with obvious pride. “This year’s opening ceremony will definitely be one to remember and is doubly notable for me since I am working with the renowned Tanusree Shankar for the first time”, Sarkar confided. (You can listen to the full interviews and exclusive insiders’ information in our podcast, “Countdown to Banga Sammelan” at http://www.banglapodcast.com/, or dial, 1-530-418-5527 for listening through any phone).
Singer Lopamudra Mitra comes back to Banga Sammelan after a decade and feels nostalgic. Her debut at Banga Sammelan was at San Francisco in 1999. Performing in Banga Sammelan, she feels, is a memorable event for any Bengali performer. Her excitement stems from the fact that she will take part in a number of events. There will of course be her solo slot, but she is also likely to have a role in the opening ceremony and a special joint musical session with Srikanto Acharya. There may be other surprises in store. “My fans have mostly heard me sing my own songs and Rabindra Sangeet, but this time they may get a chance to hear me render adhunik songs of yesteryears”, Lopamudra adds. “In this year’s Banga Sammelan I am into so many things that, what can I say, I can hardly contain my excitement”, Lopamudra signs off!