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Preview: Milapfest, Ragafest for Sgt Pepper

Milapfest, Ragafest for Sgt Pepper
St George’s Hall, Sun 11th June 2017

Words, Patrick Kirk-Smith

On Sunday (11th June 2017) Milapfest, the UKs leading Indian Arts organisation, are taking over St George’s Hall to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the release of Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, one of the most influential rock albums of all time.

Last month we published a preview interview leading up to the take-over of St George’s Hall for Indian Festival Village, but last week, we got a mesmerising preview of The Morning Ragafest too.

While it’s important to stress that this was a preview, as the Ragafest will be responding, through improvisation, to the weather, mood and feel of the morning on Sunday 11th June, the rehearsal we saw was utterly magical. When I left I was half asleep, in a completely meditative state, having got entirely lost in the sitar and drums that filled the Capstone Theatre with natural rhythms.

The two musicians, Pandit Sengupta & Kousic Sen, were so in tune with each other that they even started playing games with their music during the show, and I sincerely hope we get to see more of that on Sunday. The mood in the auditorium for this preview was clear. Listening to the music flow out, every face was either smiling, or dozing off, or both. And during a day of five exhibitions and two performance previews, being ferried around on a Magical Mystery Tour Bus, I think everyone in the room needed that.

This performance, the Morning Ragafest, is just one part of a much bigger festival to celebrate Sgt Pepper. Indian Festival Village is the encompassing event, which will see food stalls – I got a taste of the Paneer Pakora (spicy, deep fried cottage cheese) which was utterly incredible and I’ll be searching for more – music, and even yoga sessions.

The Morning Ragafest and Indian Festival Village are both taking over the iconic St George’s Hall this Sunday, 11th June. Whatever you’re doing, drop it, and get lost in something truly escapist, that will teach you far more about the Beatles than any documentary ever could.

Milapfest, Ragafest