The unique Tagore Festival is an annual celebration of the life and works of Rabindranath Tagore. Those who enjoy Indian music, dance and culture will be moved by the performances at this three-day Arts Festival, which takes place over the third weekend in June.
Indian music and dance feature at the Tagore Festival
The Tagore Festival starts on Friday and continues through Sunday, attracting a large number of visitors who appreciate all things Indian. Rabindranath Tagore has been described as a “Prophet among Writers”, a mystical poet, musician, humanist and genius. He wrote and directed many dance-dramas which all had a simple yet sophisticated message, often of spirituality.
Many of Tagore’s works are performed by traditional Indian dancers and musicians during the Tagore Festival and they attract a wide and eclectic following. Performances in 2014 will include a range of world class performers, choreographers, singers, composers and musicians presenting entertainment on the theme of a Celebration of Peace to remember the centenary of the start of World War 1.
Headline acts include Aaakash Odedra, Talvin Singh, Dr Scilla Elworthy and Satish Kumar with many supporting acts. Other Indian artists will also perform at the festival and there will be creative workshops on poetry, music, stone carving, yoga and other wellbeing-themed events. Lecturers and speakers will cover a wide range of topics on Tagore’s original beliefs which are delivered through music, drama, poetry, discussion and song.
The highlight of the Tagore Festival is the Midsummer Fire Party which takes place in this beautiful natural estate setting.
Nobel Prize winner Rabindranath Tagore
Born in Calcutta, Tagore was widely travelled and came to the UK for a time to study at University College London. Eventually he was awarded a Nobel Prize in Literature and also received a knighthood in 1915 from George V. He later repudiated his knighthood in protest at the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre.
His family had vast ancestral estates in Bangladesh yet he was adored by his tenants and villagers who honoured him with banquets when he visited to collect rents and bless them. As well as founding an Ashram (spiritual hermitage) in Santiniketan, he was a huge influence on shaping the Arts College at Dartington Hall when he visited in 1930.
His passion for the arts, education and ecology remain at the heart of what Dartington Hall offers to its international students. Tagore’s message of progressive education and rural reconstruction in India had many parallels with the depressed agricultural economy of the area when he visited.
Tagore was known internationally for his poetry, writings and translated works. He gave a Hibbert Lecture at Oxford and had paintings exhibited in London and Paris. His legacy and timely message are acknowledged and celebrated at the Tagore Festival each year.
Dartington Hall’s connection with Tagore
The beautiful setting of Dartington Hall is well worth experiencing. The charitable Dartington Hall Trust is based on a 1,200 acre estate in South Devon. The restored 14th century Great Hall is still used for many of the events, along with the mediaeval courtyard and outbuildings. I always find the atmosphere here enhances any arts event. Look for the huge fireplace and the high hammerbeam roof in the Great Hall!
Outside, the beautiful gardens, terraces and mature trees make this a wonderful setting for the festival, which also follows Tagore’s message of revering nature.
Have you ever attended an arts festival at Dartington Hall? Did you find the mediaeval rural setting enhanced the event? We’d love to hear about your visit, so feel free to share your impressions in the comments box below.