The Harrison Festival of the Arts this year will contain a strong component in its programming that features both local and international writers, dancers, and musicians.
The Festival’s Literary Café, which occurs on Monday, July 11 in Harrison’s Memorial Hall, is focused entirely on South Asian literature and music. The Literary Café is a collaboration with the University of the Fraser Valley’s Continuing Education Department. The first half of the evening will feature readings from two UFV student writers of South Asian heritage – Vancouver-based poet Fauzia Rafique, and author Gary Thandi.
Thandi, a counsellor and social worker by training, will be reading from his upcoming novel for young adults, Hyphenated, which deals with the subject of gang violence and drugs in the South Asian community.
Artistic Director Andy Hillhouse explains that the concert in the second half of the Café by music and dance ensemble Rajasthan Josh offers a rare opportunity for Fraser Valley residents to hear a world-class Indian folk ensemble.
“This group is widely known in India and abroad for bringing enchanting, mystical Sufi songs – some dating back to the 12th century – to a broad audience, and for being very accessible and entertaining” says Hillhouse.
“They combine a rumbling type of drumming called Nagara with soulful folk string instruments, and have collaborated with musicians ranging from The Grateful Dead to Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. Their latest project was produced by Johnny Greenwood from Radiohead.”
Hillhouse adds that they will have a dancer with them as well.
The Festival also draws on the Fraser Valley’s strong South Asian community, with a bhangra dance presentation by Bhangra Beat Academy. Bhangra is a South Asian dance form that has exploded in popularity in recent years, with troupes multiplying throughout the Lower Mainland.
“We have been regularly presenting bhangra at the festival for years,” Hillhouse notes, “and it remains one of the most popular things we do – it is colourful and joyous and always attracts a big crowd.”
The Bhangra Beat Academy will perform on the Beach Stage on Saturday July 9 at 2:20 p.m.