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Saudha – Keats and the Bangla Music Festival

Saudha – Keats and the Bangla Music Festival

September 22 2015

Group that promotes Indian classical music and poetry and arts to play at famous poet house…

WHAT would the great Romantic English poet Keats have made of Indian classical music being played in his house?

He probably would have loved it and been thrilled, that as well as Indian music being played, the poetry of Rabindranath Tagore will accompany the recital.

Tagore was a great admirer and some of his own poetry was influenced by the great English Romantic poet, who died when he was just 25 in 1821, and only left a body of work that had been in existence for four years.

Imtiaz Ahmedad, one of the performers at the Bangla Music Festival (vocals)

Now the memory of both will echo in Keats House and Museum in Hampstead, North London, courtesy of Saudha, Society of Poetry and Indian Music, and the Keats recital forms part of a three-day festival, much of which is free entry.

It also forms the lead up to Saudha’s major annual event – its two-day festival of music and poetry in Leeds.

The Keats recital form the first part of the society’s three-day Bangla Music Festival.

Ahmed Kaysher, one of the founders and the current director of Saudha, which was formed in 2011, told “We were asked to play there as someone from Keats House had seen our concerts and was very impressed. There was also the Tagore connection.”

Saudha, which hosts the two-day World Poetry and Indian Classical Musical Festival in Leeds from October 9, is perhaps the only organisation which has been actively promoting both Indian classical music and poetry since its inception in 2012. It has done events with accompanying dance too and there is the ambition to add painting too at some point.

“We just saw a gap and wondered why it wasn’t being done,” explained Kaysher.

The three-day London based festival begins at lunchtime at 1pm at the Montefiore Centre in Brick Lane, East London on Friday (September 25) with a workshop for musicans.

Ahmed Kaysher, director Saudha

Then the festival moves to Keats House in the evening.

On Saturday (September 26), Kobi Nazrul Centre in East London plays hosts to an interactive session of music and discussion with local musicians. They will discuss the future of Bangla music and some young artists will play and there are performances by Robika and Satyen Sen School of Arts.

Then on Sunday, the festival culminates at the Rich Mix Centre in Shoreditch with a journey through Bangla music from its early origins – Chorja-Pod (730CE), through folk and covering different periods to Bengali contemporary. There are a number of performers and the concert is a seven-hour extravaganza of Bangla music.

On October 9, Saudha’s World Poetry and Indian Classical Music Festival opens at the Bangladeshi Centre in Leeds and closes at Seven Artspace with Kathak dance being added to the poetry and music on the evening.

Saudha has come a long way from its community origins and its basic desire to popularise classical music. Earlier this year it hosted its second performance at the Southbank Centre, one of the country’s most iconic performance venues. In 2014, it organised its first – a considerable coup for the group.

“It was very popular and showed us that there is a large and engaged audience – the next day I was deluged by emails saying how it wonderful it was,” reported Kaysher.

Chandra Chakraborty

The group has though been criticised for its scale of ambition by some classical music purists.

Inspired by the spirit and aesthetics of 19th century princely courts that patronised both music and poetry, Saudha has also been keen to develop a distinctly ‘Western Gharana’.

Gharanas refer to styles of music that developed around certain princely states and are commonly referred to by the place names of their origins such as – Gwalior or Lucknow. They can also refer to particular instruments or vocals that were popular in these regions and developed over time.

“We want to bring the arts together in the way that they were in the 18/19th centuries when poetry and music and dance were simply the branches of the same tree and in doing this we want to develop a new distinctly different style of performance called ‘Western Gharana’.

“It is essentially a campaign for creating a new audience in the West by engaging ordinary, non-technical audiences who are enthralled by music and poetry.”

Main picture: Wintry scene Keats House and museum and performer Sahana Bajpayee


Friday (September 25)

Saturday (September 26) 6.30pm-9pm

Sunday (September 27)

  • The Evolution, 12pm-7pm (with talks interspersed)
    Includes singers and performers: Singers include leading classical vocalists Chandra Chakraborty, Chiranjib Chakraborty, critically acclaimed guest classical singer from Kolkata Anol Chatterjee, prominent Tagore singers Imtiaz Ahmed, Sanjoy Dey, Sahana Bajpae, celebrated semi classical vocalists Sumana Mallik Basu, Gouri Chowdhury, Farzana Sifat, Sayan Gupta, Amith Dey and others. Renowned keyboard player Kiran Thakrar, an emerging tabla player: Rich Mix, 35-47 Bethnal Green Road, E1 6LA London (free but register)

Friday, October 9

Saturday, October 10

  • World Poetry & Indian Classical Music Festival 6pm-9pm
    Day 2 features showcases experimental performances of therapeutic Indian classical music (both vocal and instrumental), haunting verses of traditional world poetry and a dance known as Kathak, so that each form of art can profoundly complement each other.
    The event Indian classical vocalist Chandra Chakraborty, leading violinist Kamalbir Singh, UK sitar player Roopa Panesar, actor and impassioned reciter of Hafiz and Cavafy, Erik Schelander, Tabla player Bhupinder Singh Chaggar and emerging tabla player Himanish Goswami (paid ticket)

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Written by Asian Culture Vulture


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