August 29 2014
It started as an idea but is gathering force and has a momentum that is quickening…
POETRY, dance and music come together for one night as they did when the Indian classical arts were as one.
Today (August 29) sees Saudha, society of poetry and Indian music, take over the Nehru Centre in central London.
Billed as the “Sound of Soul“, tonight’s event will feature Indian classical vocals, world poetry and Kathak dancing.
The evening is the brainchild of Saudha, the group dedicated to bringing music and poetry and other classical Indian arts closer together.
Now some three years old, Saudha has organised more than a dozen events and the “Sound of Soul” represents another leap – as it introduces dance into the mix of poetry and music.
“We are on a mission,” said Saudha’s co-founder and director Ahmed Kaysher. “We want to find new audiences and popularise Indian classical music.”
The problem is that for many – Indian classical music can be seen as quite stiff, austere and in the end, almost soul-sappingly boring.
Of course in the hands of a Ravi Shankar or Ali Akbar Khan, such charges are very wide of the mark and they have both been instrumental in popularising Indian classical music and introducing it to the West.
But boundaries have been built and the conversation that used to occur between the arts in courtly India and the subcontinent (pre-Partition) has been virtually extinguished.
Saudha want to revive that spirit of exchange and learning and enable audiences to participate in the process too.
“It is a kind of fusion,” described Kaysher.
“By mixing poetry, classical vocals and Kathak, we’re hoping to create new bonds and a greater appreciation of the classical arts,” explained Kaysher.
The Nehru Centre concert represents the first of these ambitious exercises with three separate performances of classical singing, poetry and Kathak.
“Both the vocals and the Kathak are derived from Thumri – (a style that revels in the tales of Lord Krishna),” said Chandra Chakraborty, co-founder of Saudha and a classical chanteuse who will be performing at “Sound of Soul”.
Indeed the connections are rich and yet the vocals have gone one way, and Kathak another, but really they are inspired from the same sources.
A disciple (if there can be such a term for a follower) of the controversial late 20th century French philosopher, Jacques Derrida and his method of ‘Deconstruction’, Kaysher sees Saudha on a journey.
Derrida’s close textual analysis, ‘ deconstruction’ of classical philosophical texts, in short, uncovered their hidden biases and dubious rhetorical devices.
While Saudha does not have such a radical agenda, it desires a certain sensibility and scrutiny that looks to the very heart of things and their practice and wants to ‘deconstruct’ the boundaries that have built up between the various classical art forms.
Next year, Saudha hopes to stage a ‘Classical Bollywood’ – in perhaps the most ambitious rendering yet of its philosophy.
“The event will demonstrate different classically constructed songs and the full length raga that these popular Bollywood songs are based on,” explained Kaysher.
But for now, there are three events to look out from Saudha.
While the first is the “Sound of Soul” at the Nehru Centre, it will present its annual (now third) two-day festival of world poetry and music from Sunday, September 13, at sevenleeds.co.uk, an arts space in Leeds. The festival has grown each year and was selected as one of top-ten arts events in the town last year.
The society will also help assist the first ever near day-long celebration of Bengali music, with the Bangla Music Festival at the Rich Mix in Shoreditch, east London at the end of this month.
Picture: Chandra Chakraborty (left and middle), Ahmed Kaysher
- “Sound of Soul” – Free entry, 6pm-9pm Friday, August 29 At the Nehru Centre, 8 South Audley Street London W1K 1HF – Classical Indian vocals from Chandra Chakraborty, with tabla player Sanju Sahai, keyboard Sunil Jadhav, percussionist Renu Hossain, Tagore singer, Imtiaz Ahmed. Kathak dancers Jaymini Sahai and Showmi Das. Spoken word and poetry, Leesa Gazi, Towhid Shakeel, Siobhan Mac Mahon, David Morgan, Thiago Alexandre Tonussi and Ahmed Kaysher. More HERE
- World Poetry and Indian Classical Music Festival from 5.30pm, Saturday, September 13-14 at Seven Artspace, 31(a) Harrogate Road, Chapel Allerton, Leeds, LS7 3PD Tickets, prices and performance details
- Bangla Music Festival, Sunday, September 28, 12pm-. For further details, click here
*Chandra Chakraborty will be appearing at Darbar, the biggest festival of Indian classical music in the UK, from September 17-21. A full preview will appear shortly on www.asianculturevulture.com