Music transcends language and ethnicity. This is why an individual from Colombo can listen to a singer from Ratnapura sings in Jaffna. It is also for this reason that the Jaffna Music Festival and Colombo Music Festival attract large crowds.
The concept of a music festival was first introduced to Sri Lanka in 2009 when the Galle Music Festival was held in December that year. This gave ‘young, up-coming, local groups from the North, East, Central, Western and Southern regions a chance to perform to a live audience.’ The festival was held on a small-scale due to it’s being the first event of its kind organized and also because of the social and political situation of the country following the end of the armed conflict.
Since then, music festivals have been organized in Jaffna and Galle with two festivals held in the South and three, including the 2015 Festival in the North. The festivals give the performers and audience a platform to connect with music and each other and appreciate music for what it is instead of letting one’s appreciation and exposure to music be based on ethnicity and culture.
This could be why the crowd at the festivals is astounding. The organizers expect 20,000 people and Jaffna Music Festival 2013 attracted an audience of 25,000 over a two-day period. Usually, the Festival includes a children’s festival and a main festival. However, this year, the children’s festival won’t be held due to the situation in Jaffna. Despite this, the main festival is bound to attract many people and give the audience the opportunity to experience and appreciate other cultures.
May 30 was selected as the day for the Jaffna Music Festival and the venue is the Jaffna Municipal Grounds. The festival features many artistes and groups including, Banku Raban from Mathugama, Sabaragamuwa Bali from Ratnapura, Yaal Kiramiya Sangamam from Jaffna, Sufi from Ampara, Pooli Koothu from Batticaloa and Baliphonics from Colombo and international groups from Bangladesh and India. The festival brings to the audience a mixture of folk music, traditional music and folk-tradition fusion.
Held prior to the main festival, an exhibition displaying photographs of previous festivals is bound to take the audience through the festivals held since 2009.
The Jaffna Music Festival, as well as the Galle Music Festival, are initiatives of the Sri Lanka-Norway Music Cooperation and are implemented by Sevalanka Foundation in partnership with Concerts Norway. Aru Sri Art Theater manages artistic direction and core funding for the festivals are received from the Royal Norwegian Embassy.
Further, the Colombo Concert of the Jaffna Music Festival will be held at Nawarangahala, Royal College, Colombo on May 31 from 7pm onwards. The event will feature The Shankar Brothers, Angree, an award-winning Indian band and LALON from Bangladesh.