Society of Poetry and Indian Music returns to the Royal Albert Hall for a unique concert that links Indian classical traditions and European styles with love in all its manifestations, including the physical…
MANY would attest to music’s seductive quality and say a range of emotions are stimulated.
Fewer probably would openly attest to its ability to arouse and inspire desire – the ancient Greeks would understand its links to Eros and were far less reticent about talking about the subject.
Similarly, Ahmed Kaysher, the co-founder and director of Saudha, Society of Poetry and Indian Music, argues there is a strand of classic Indian music and literature that has seen music as a way to another human beings’s heart, mind and body.
Saudha’s – ‘Songs of Sringrar and Seduction – Thumri to Troubadour’ at the Royal Albert Hall on Monday, January 15, aims to throw off the veil in more ways than one.
This night of music, poetry and projections of ancient sculptures and paintings, celebrate this tradition and put Eros and sexual desire and ecstasy more centre stage anything we might normally associate with Indian classical music.
The concert also links back to a European romantic tradition of Troubadours – who travelled around Continental Europe most extensively in the 11-13th centuries, singing, drinking and revelling in some cases, and extemporising about love in all its forms – sometimes quite explicitly too.
These bards and poets were the popular entertainers of their day and some were also philosophers and intellectuals and deeply spiritual and combined their musical ability with lyrics and poetry that had mass appeal.
Saudha hosted ‘Frieda Kahlo – Indian Classical music’ at the same Royal Albert Hall venue of the Elgar room in 2022 and the show was a sell out and critical success and used the same format – music of different types but with a leaning towards Indian classical, poetry, spoken word and projections of one of the last century’s most influential visual artists.
Kaysher said ‘Songs of Sringrar and Seduction – Thumri to Troubadour’ will have a similar format and explore similarities and differences in both traditions. Kaysher will act as the compere and help to “decode” (as he described it) certain motifs and acts as they appear.
Among the artists performing on the evening are leading Bel Canto (a lyrical style of Opera singing with distinct lyrics) singer Ziazan; Chinese folk artist Yijia Tu, who plays the guzheng (an ancient Chinese instrument); Lara Eidi, a Greece based-Lebanese singer and multi-instrumentalist; Indian classical singer Koyel Bhattacharya; Neapolitan (Italian) troubadour singer Rossella Bondi and a range of UK based South Asian classically music inspired singers: Gouri Chowdhury, Farzana Sifat, and Amith Dey, among them. Indian classical tabla player Kuntal Das will play; and there is poetry, spoken word and storyelling from Shree Ganguly, and Tanjina Nur-i- Siddique.
“The concert celebrates a certain type of joy inspired and aroused by Indian classical music.
“It might be considered sensual in the western sense but there are other elements too,” Kaysher told www.asianculturevulture.com.
“This is about sensuality as a form of pure joy – ecstasy but without forgetting that this can also be deeply spiritual and not just simply physical.”
“It is about pure physical joy but that joy has a purpose and meaning and it is spiritual. It can be transcendental and Indian classical music has that quality too.”
The Sringrar Rasa (literally in Sanskrit – taste, essence or embodiment) is a tradition that is inspired by these sentiments.
“A tradition developed in the court of Mughals and is a form of musical viagra – when the Mughal rulers became impotent they turned to their musicians, poets and other artists to help them and this strand of music comes from that.”
Kaysher has curated the artists and said they are exploring similar sentiments and emotions but through their respective histories and personal learnings.
“Ziazan is the last of a glorious tradition and an outstanding Bel Canto singer.”
Kaysher explained that there is a thread between these traditions, explored in ‘Songs of Sringrar and Seduction – Thumri to Troubadour’.
“It’s the old Silk Road – traders between China and the west, there was a sort of exchange of ideas and styles and the concert covers these, highlighting similarities.”
The Thumri style of music remains popular in parts of North India and is a form of Hindustani devotional music inspired by faith and the love between the god Krishna and his companion, Radha.
Troubadours often delivered their poetry and music in the language of Occitan – derived from Latin and spoken in much of Southern France, and parts of Italy and Spain.
“My aim is that anyone coming to the concert will have an emotional orgasm with the music,”Kaysher chuckled… you heard it here, first!
Gallery instructions below – place cursor over picture to see caption…
‘Saudha: Songs of Sringrar and Seduction’, doors open 6pm for 6.30pm – Thumri to Troubadour, Elgar Room, Royal Albert Hall, Kensington Gore, South Kensington, London SW7 2AP.
- Currently showing as sold out – but check nearer time and see Saudha