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Curating a music concert or gig isn't just about deciding the artist lineup. A music curator - yes, they exist - needs to think about the programming repertoire, the length of the concert, the length of interval (even whether to have an interval). Festivals abroad have a curator whose responsibilities include deciding the programming theme to the colour of the napkins at the food stalls. Now even artists have taken to curating festivals. Jay Z and Metallica have their own music festivals.
The Meltdown, an annual festival in London, chooses an established music artist or act as director of the event and are given the freedom to pick performers of their choosing. Band-curated festivals bring devoted fans together and allow them to discover music recommended by their favourite band. The closest India has ever come to curating any aspect of a music festival was when The Midival Punditz, an electronica outfit from New Delhi, were asked by Nikhil Chinapa to 'curate' the Live Stage at Sunburn 2011.
The word curator often implies a position of authority in selecting artists and contextualising work in theory and in presentation. However, curating can also extend to facilitating collaborations between different people and elements together to create a project. It's in this space that British Council's Tasneem Vahanvaty can rightly be called a curator. For the past few years, the British Council has flown down up-and-coming acts from the UK and even facilitated collaborations between UK and India musicians. He even managed to get Mumford & Sons down to India in 2009 for a tour and a collaboration with the Rajasthani outfit, Dharohar Project.
The folk rock act won two Grammys in 2010 and their 2012 album 'Babel' debuted on number one on the US Billboard charts. "Curation is about giving something a personal touch but it's just as much about having your finger on the pulse. Your role is that of a tastemaker, who can spot a trend before it becomes a trend, " says Tasneem.
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