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Talvin Singh heads London ‘world music’ line-up

Talvin Singh heads London ‘world music’ line-up

November 3 2015

London International Arts Festival has become something of an international platform for some of the world’s most creative musicians…

HEADLINING this year’s London International Arts Festival (LIAF) is Mercury Prizewinner, Talvin Singh.

He takes to the stage on Friday, two days into the five-day festival which begins tomorrow (November 4), to unveil a new sound he has been working on for a while.

Trikona is a new live project which will see his jazz and dub sound take new turns. Talvin will be joined by Ben Hazleton on double bass, Giuliano Modarelli on guitar and dub master Louis Beckett will be fronting up and mixing. Mercury-nominated Seb Rochford and Carnatic singer Mahathi are also among those performing at LAF 2015.

It’s a major coup for the festival – now in its 4th year and expanding yet again.

“It started as a community music festival in Redbridge,” explained curator and well-known violinist Jyotsna Srikanth. “There were just two venues in the beginning and we now have five.”

Sriknath believes the festival is unique in its musical offering and offers Londoners a chance to sample sounds they would never normally hear – or hear in proximity and collaboratively.

Musical LIAF curator Jyotsna Srikanth

“There is really no world music festival as such in London,” asserted Srikanth. Perhaps the best known in the UK is WOMAD, which occurs in Reading annually.

While the festival may have its roots in Carnatic music, the classical sound of South India, and the tradition which Srikanth’s own violin-playing developed, it’s grown and developed into a celebration of the eclectic and champions those for whom musical boundaries and traditions are there to be crossed, mixed, and for the purists, probably, violated.

But Srikanth sees nothing wrong in that – her own band Bangalore Dreams mixes drums, ethnic percussion and Carnatic beatboxing.

She has joined musicians from Scandinavia to produce Nordic Raag and is one of the most creative forces in Carnatic music and in demand around Europe. A doctor, who gave up medicine in the UK to focus on her music, her violin playing has featured in over 200 Bollywood films and is she well-known to long-time readers for her collaborations and the popularisation of Carnatic Music in Europe.

“We started with Carnatic music but audiences are used to us mixing things up,” she added.

You could certainly say that about the opening evening which sees Kefaya – whose influences span the globe and see no harm in electronic and virtuoso riffs on African/Caribbean/Middle Eastern sounds with material from both India and Europe.

Joining them on the opening bill at the Oslo Hackney (a new LIAF venue) are Mina – who inspired by Buddhist godai philosophy, produces music with notes from India, Japan and Modernist leanings.

Bernhard Schimpelsberger presents 'Rhythm Diaries'

If that wasn’t enough, Manorama Prasad, presents a more classical Carnatic take. A performer at Darbar – the country’s largest Indian Classical music festival – she is regarded as one of the leading practitioners of Carnatic vocal tradition, based outside of India.

“It’s all about widening the range of music on offer,” explained Srikanth.

The next evening (November 5) Hackney Empire plays host to the Iyatra Quartet whose music explores classical, jazz Cuban, Brazilian and Indian music. Iyatra is a play on the Hindi word for travel and journey. Joining to complement the line-up that evening will be Tumbaito, playing Afro and Latin Jazz and the night will be rounded off by Dizzy Jam.
On Friday, Trikona hits the Rich Mix in Bethnal Green.

Bernhard Schimpelsberger – who has has worked with Nitin Sawhney, Anoushka Shankar and dancer Akram Khan – presents “Rhythm Diaries”. A committed student who has devoted much of his life to ‘Konnakol’ – the Indian language of rhythm, his diaries are like a musical tour of India through drums and other less well-known instruments.

It’s followed by Bangalore Dreams who will perform contemporary Indian jazz with the centrepiece being Talvin Singh’s Trikon and then Osmani Soundz DJ will round off the evening with the Soundz of the Asian Underground.

On Saturday (November 7) LIAF returns to its original staring point – Redbridge Town Hall. The programme gets underway in the afternoon with Srikanth leading he own young ensemble and choir, known as Dhruv.

Iyatra Quartet

Utsav Music presents “Bells in Sync” with Shallu Jindal, Yashasvini Jindal and Krithika Subramanian, combining the classical dance of South India – Bharatanatyam with Kuchipudi, a dance form popular in Andhra Pradesh. This is then followed by Southern Rhythms and led by one of the foremost percussionists of his generation, Patri Satish Kumar (mridangam), and supported by Giridhar Udupa and followed by Sur Rang who mix up Bengali songs with English explanations. It all ends with a Carnatic classic concert with Srikanth playing alongside Kumar and Udupa.

The festival ends on Sunday at the Jazz Café in Camden with Rochford, beatboxer Jason Singh and British Asian vocalist Ranjana Ghatak also on stage together. The group, Human Beamings and Bengal Tiger and Shanghai Dragon, and the Grand Union Orchestra, all bring the curtain down. There will be musicians from both China and South Asia playing at this.

London International Arts Festival (LIAF), November 4-8.

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Written by Asian Culture Vulture