The Bengal Foundation has cancelled its annual Classical Music Festival in Bangladesh as it clashes with a visit from Pope Francis. It was due to run from 23-27 November. Past performers have included sitar player Purbayan Chatterjee, tabla artist Nilesh Ranadive and bansuri virtuoso Hariprasad Chaurasia.
The festival, which would have reached its sixth instalment, has previously been held at Army Stadium in Dhaka. However, the Army Sports Control Board – who are responsible for the venue – said they did not have the resources to cover both events, despite the fact the pope is not actually visiting the stadium and is not due to arrive in Dhaka until 30 November.
The foundation posted the following statement on its website: “We sincerely apologise to each and every audience member who has shown the event such love and enthusiasm.”
Organisers have looked into using other venues, but were unable to secure the necessary late performance license. As a result, the festival’s cancellation was announced today.
“It takes eight months of thorough planning for this event and it is not possible to change or adjust our plans after such intense coordination,” said Bengal Foundation chair Abul Khaer Litu. “Changing the event will endanger the reputation we have built in the five years of the festival. This is why, at this point, we will not be able to change the location, the date and timing, or the artists attending.”