All About Curating International Music Festivals

10/19(SAT.) 14:00 All About Curating International Music Festivals
Speaker︰Diana Webley, Mahesh Babu, Nandini Mahesh, Jung Hun Lee, Miriam Brenner

Five curators (who also manage and run festivals) with differing backgrounds from the Netherlands, Canada, India, and South Korea will share on their numerous experiences and unique methods in organizing large music festivals. The lectures will discuss the handling of local customs, management modes, content planning, and the organization of labor division for festivals in Europe, the Americas, South Asia, and Northeast Asia. The speakers will also talk about the challenges of curating international events. Anyone interested in curating music festivals shouldn’t miss this.

|Canada—Diana Webley|

Diana Webley has worked extensively in the North American market to develop opportunities in mentorship, networking, and collaborations and is currently working to expand to the global market. She is the senior producer at Harbourfront Centre, which organizes over 4,000 events featuring thousands of artists each year and 450 partnerships related to innovative cultural exchanges.  She specializes in art direction, planning, programming, development and production in the diverse city of Toronto and is making pathways for events abroad. 

Harbourfront Centre, sitting on 10 acres of Toronto’s waterfront with over 12 million visits a year, is an innovative not-for-profit cultural organization that organizes events and activities of excellence which enliven, educate and entertain a diverse public. We aim to nurture the growth of new cultural expression, stimulate Canadian and international interchange and provide a dynamic, accessible environment for the public to experience the marvels of the creative imagination. Diana is also a part-time professor at Centennial College in the Arts Management Program and is leading Nordic Bridges, a large project for 2021 that will be the first of its kind in Canada with Harbourfront Centre taking the reins.

 India— Mahesh Babu、Nandini Mahesh
|Mahesh Babu|

Mahesh Babu was exposed to music very early in life thanks to his father’s love for classical music. He grew up listening to great maestros who, at his father’s invitation, would come to his house and perform for a select few listeners. This laid a strong foundation for his journey into the world of music that started under the guidance of one the most revered gurus of Hyderabad, Pt. Narayanrao Punt, who taught him the tabla. He received the prestigious National Scholarship for performing arts and was put under the tutelage of the famous Ustad Shaikh Daood.

In 1985 he joined ONGC as a geophysicist and moved to Mumbai. In 1992 he left ONGC and started working as a consultant for Pan Music to enhance their repertoire of Indian classical music. The following year he joined the UK-based label Navras Records and established it in India as a leading brand. All along, his quest for rare forms and great music continued, as did his search in rural areas.

In 1996, he founded Ninaad Music (a music label) and Banyan Tree Events, which today are among the front-ranking companies known for world-class presentations of performing arts not just all over India but in other countries as well. He has been conceiving and organizing festivals across India of various genres for corporations, tourism departments, PSUs and others. Some of Banyan Tree’s most well-known events are Ruhaniyat The All India Sufi & Mystic Music Festival, Barkha Ritu, the only national festival of monsoon ragas, Splendor of Masters, and the Golconda Cultural Festival to name just a few. These highly popular festivals are the culmination of his musical journey of three decades.

Babu has also helped create content and market more than 100 albums for labels like CBS, Navras, Crescendo and Ninaad Music. Most of these are chart-toppers in the classical music section.

|Nandini Mahesh|

A graduate of sociology from the prestigious St. Xavier’s College, Nandini did her M.A. in sociology at Bombay University before joining Elphinstone College as a lecturer. After a few years of teaching, she joined the world of advertising as a copywriter and was part of the advertising world for a decade beginning in 1990, working for some of the world‘s leading agencies, like Everest, Madison and Ambience. In 1999 she left the advertising world to join her husband as a source of creativity in his initiative to preserve performing arts through his companies, Banyan Tree and Ninaad Music.

A trained musician in the Hindustani classical vocals, she embarked on an ethnomusicological journey to Rajasthan for her research on the Manganiyars, a community of musicians from the remote villages of Jaisalmer and Barmer districts, under the guidance of Padma Bhushan Komal Kothari.

In her endeavor to reach out to the younger generation, she directed the first-ever music video of classical Indian music featuring the living legends Pt. Shivkumar Sharma and his son (and protege), Rahul Sharma, in  1998.

She has also authored a coffee-table book entitled Sufi & Mystic India, which is based on her experiences of discovering unheard-of forms and talented musicians, carriers of living traditions from across India, for Ruhaniyat – The All India Sufi and Mystic Music Festival, which has been organized by her and her husband in ten different cities for over a decade now. The book is an enchanting journey into Indian culture, crisscrossing history and geography as it relates unique experiences.

The Netherlands—Miriam Brenner

Miriam Brenner is an independent art director, manager, agent and consultant. She has organized live music and context activities at two renowned Dutch festivals and produced in-house shows as well as European tours at the Netherlands’ best-known theater in this genre based in Utrecht.

In 2012 she founded her own talent development agency, Kokako Music, and has since organized tours on four continents. She gravitates towards exciting, fresh sounds from around the globe – from electronic and traditional to urban – always rooted in culture. With Kokako Music, she’s been representing Lusophone artists that have performed at the Roskilde and Lowlands Festivals and events from Chicago to Malaysia. As a published ethnomusicologist, this hands-on professional draws from her academic background to put music in its relevant cultural context. She specializes in an array of Asian music and more.

She regularly speaks and moderates at conferences and has participated in several mentor programs. In 2012 she co-founded the Global Club Music Network and women’s mentoring program Been There Done That.

Besides running Kokako Music, she is currently the coordinator of the NGO World Music Utrecht, stimulating the inclusion of diverse music in the Netherlands’ biggest city.


Korea—Jung Hun Lee

– Founder & General Director of Seoul Music Week
– Founder & General Director of the Ulsan Jazz Festival (since 2000)
– Artistic Director of the ACC World Music Festival
– Member of the Advisory Committee of Culture Cooperation of Korea – EU

  • President of GloMMnet (Global Music Market Network), an organization of 28 members from 25 countries that connects the global music market.

– Former professor at the Young San University Film Department
– Adjunct graduate-school professor at the Yeungnam University Art Management Department