Society of Poetry and Indian Music
11. Preview: Poetry & Indian Classical Music Festival, Leeds by Yorkshire Evening Post: Neil Hudson
An event aims to marry Indian classical music with Western poetry and dance is set to take place this weekend in Leeds.
The World Poetry and Indian Classical Music Festival will take place at Seven Arts cafe, Chapel Allerton, having already performed to great acclaim at the Purcell Room in London’s South Bank.
Ahmed Kaysler, 38, a librarian in Leeds and one of the festival organisers, spoke to WOW24/7 about the concept behind the festival.
Described by Ahmed as “experimental and highly subtle form of experimental art” which is “set to create new audience of classical music through seamlessly intertwining Indian classical music with other form of subtle arts, like Western poetry... to decode and interpret the mood of music.”
He went on: “What we aim to do is to intertwine Indian classical music with other forms of music and poetry from around the world, with the emphasis being on the interpreting the underlying meaning in classical music.
“So, for example, if you were to listen to some of the raggas (Indian music), when you listen to them, you cannot fail to be moved either externally or internally.
“It’s about expressing the pain of the suffered soul and the experience can be quite uplifting and transcendental.
“We want to find new audiences and popularise Indian classical music.”
The two-day festival will fuse ostensibly divergent pieces of art, from Schubert and the poetry of Sylvia Plath to Indian maestros like Chandra Chakraborty, who was considered a child prodigy in India.
It is being presented by Saudha, Society of Poetry and Indian Music and will put Indian classical music featuring Saudha’s hypnotic concerts of classical (Kheyal) and semi-classical music (Thumri, Dadra, Ghazal) blending haunting verses of traditional world poetry (Hafiz, Tagore, Khyam, Keats, Lorca, Ghalib, Neruda etc) and spectacular Kathak dance to communicate and visualize the images of music.
Ahmed added: “We are in a campaign of creating new audience of classical music mainly Indian but Western in some extent, too. Indian classical music does have a therapeutic impact on the human mind apart from the its beauty as a subtle art form.
“Through this campaign we worked with leading classical musicians in order to present the purity of the art form and because ordinary audience takes classical music as an obscure form of art, we seamlessly intertwined classical music with haunting verses of poetry around the world of many different languages so that it can decode the mood of the music at least, it can at least put some images for audience to focus on when different ragas are being played through instruments or sung by vocalists.
“We have achieved a lot in terms of connecting new audience in the West.
“Once they come to the concert they ask when the next one is going to happen.
“The main admirers of these shows are the audience from Western background and many Western audience even know more about Indian classical music that Asian probably because of Ravi Shankar.
“The vision of those performance is purely to produce quality form of art through experiments and fusion without compromising with the purity as well as through engaging ordinary audience.
“I am a poet, I am a big fan of classical music both Western and Indian. I read about serious music, too.
“People will firstly enjoy the magic of an intertwined art form and get rid of wearies of repetitive reproduction of the same things.
“In the future we would like to experiment with all relevant serious art forms engaging leading musicians and audiences and see us performing regularly in big venues like the Royal Albert Hall
The festival was counted as one of the top-ten events in Leeds last year and will start at 6pm each day and finish at 9pm. For more information, visit the website: www.sevenleeds.co.uk
12. Soul Fusion -Saudha, rich past, abundant future by Asian Culture Vulture - Sailesh Ram
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
13. Chris Nickson(chrisnickson.co.uk) on Saudha by Chris Nickson
We call them ‘the arts’ as if they were separate things. But together music, words, dance and images all affect the senses. They can fire or calm, give moments of tranquillity and insight. They’re part of us, and have been as long as there have been people in the world.
Music is poetry without words, and poetry is the music of the images in the head. Dance is the flow and grace of rhythm, sound as movement. They all connect in the senses.
Classical Indian music in an ancient form. The Carnatic music of Southern India is steeped in a refined tradition so different from our experience in the West. Different pieces are intended to evoke different moods, and there’s also room for improvisation, an alaap, as it’s known. There’s balance between the art of the composer and the virtuosity of the artist.
There’s balance, too, in dance. Not in the obvious physical way, but in the act of interpretation, of following the steps. Ballet we know. There’s just as much technique in the depth of Indian dance as there is in the music.
There’s that same balance in the semi-classical music of India, the love songs known as ghazals. A balance between voice and instruments and between words and music.
The words in ghazals are often love poems, poems to the spirit of love. But in so many cultures, poetry and music have naturally gone together. In the Middle East, for instance, the words of Rumi have been to set music many times.
It’s something we see less in the West, but even so words and music do complement each other. They set and develop moods and create images. A poem can illuminate the entire world in a few lines.
Poetry, music dance – all the arts – transcend cultures and countries. The words of the West can highlight the music of the East, and vice versa. That’s what Saudha shows in its performances. That we’re one world, and we can speak to each other in many different ways.
14. Saudha’s music festival hits the top ten events by Asian Echo: Anjum Mir
World poetry and Indian classical music festival at Seven Arts in Leeds was one of the top 10 events in Leeds of this year, according to some regular festival goers and online event review websites.
The festival attracted significant numbers of western audience including a lot of new audience of Indian classical music from Asian and African heritage.
The festival combined treasure of both words and music of five languages (English, Urdu, Bengali, Hindi and Persian) through very artistic amalgamation for all diverse audience to communicate with.
Shabaz Hussain (Tabla) and Royal Albert Hall performer, highly acclaimed violinist Kamalbir Nandra, musicologist Siddartha Kargupta (Harmoniuam) accompanied Chandra while Schubert vocalist and actor Erik Schelander and Leesa Gazi recited from Tagore, Ghalib, Keats, Hafiz, Jibananda to explain the mood of music in between Alap and Tan
Festival reached to its pinnacle on Sunday the second day of the event. Popular Urdu poets Ishtiaque Mir and Mahjabeen Ghazal Ansari recited their poems in tune with English translation.
Contemporary Bengali poet Delower Hussain Monzu read his short poem in Bengali, then poet Robert Smith, poet Scott Farquharson and award winning poet Siobhan MacMahon recited their lyrical verses with beautiful Cello accompaniment by former member of regional youth orchestra of Northern Sinfonia and ex-performer of Oxford University Orchestra, Gemma Irving. Concert started with very powerful semi-classical singer Sumana Basu’s Ghazal.
Sumana sang some heart-felt renditions of Ghalib (Urdu) and Kazi Nazrul Islam (Bengali) with beautiful input of translated verses by Erik Schelander while she was accompanied by Shahbaz Hussain in Tabla.
Former gold medalist in vocal music Kamalbir Nandra added a new strength in festival singing another touchy version of Ghazal. After very engaging sessions of solo Tabla and solo violin, Chandra Chakraborty appeared on the stage with her usual team, Kamalbir Nandra (Violin), Shahbaz Hussain (Tabla), Siddartha Kargupta (Harmonium) and Erik Schelander (Recitation).
She was glowing with her divine voice while singing kheyal on Raga Chandrakush, Chayanat and beautiful version of Thumri one after another. The house-full hall turned into pin-drop silence while subtle notes were sung by her with an extreme dexterity.
The mesmerized audience broke silence with constant clapping at the end of every session and most of audience did standing ovation in the end after Chandra’s very last Thumri.
‘One of my memorable experiences of attending any live classical music concert’ said Adrian . David Hoghton-Carter, programme director of Minerva Pathway said ‘one of best engaging and engrossing classical music concerts I have ever gone to.
Verses of poetry suit perfect with the music and communicate better although this hypnotic form of music itself has its own communication’. Mother of the celebrated Tabla player and a regular South Bank performer Shahbaz Hussain told that she had attended Indian classical music concerts happened in Leeds before that included the concerts by Pandit Ajoy Chakraborty and her daughter Kausheki Chakraborty too.
But that was the one she had liked all the way through because it had so many engaging elements on top of the technicalities of music. Lighting and sound were just perfect. ‘And Chandra’ she added ‘ is just incomparable; the one who directly blessed by Swaraswati, the goddess of music’.
The event was coordinated and moderated by the director of Saudha T M Ahmed Kaysher.
Audience came in both days hugely praised the concerts as something very soothing, transforming and redemptive.
BBC Radio Leeds, Yorkshire Evening Post covered the festival as the major event of the city.
Saudha, Society of Poetry and Indian Music, an emerging promoter of Indian classical music across the country organized the festival on last 14 and 15 September.
Leading musicians of Indian classical music both vocal and instrumental performed while prominent poets of Leeds also read their poems with some beautiful Cello compositions.
Poet Amina Weston, Poet Rob Smith, poet T M Ahmed Kaysher (Bengali with English translation), poet Noyolee Munim recited their own poems on the opening day of the festival.
Mr Amal Podder, Cllr Muhammed Iqbal and Kiranjit Virdee spoke on the issues of connectivity of Indian classical music to world-wide audience. Concert started with Dipanjan Guha’s solo sitar with the very celebrated musician of North Shahbaz Hussain in Tabla, writer and actor Leesa Gazi in reciting from great Bengali poet Jibanananda Das in a phase of the introduction (alap, Jur) of rag Yemen .
Dipan, the young but very promising sitarist performed with an impeccable speed and tempo through the ascending and descending notation of Raga Yemen and managed to disseminate the mood of raga across the whole audience of the hall.
Leesa’s voice and delivery was just perfect with the music which was aptly harmonized with the sensitivity and subtlety of the mood of the raga. First day’s concert ended with festival’s main attraction, one of the leading Indian classical vocalists Chandra Chakraborty’s Kheyal (Rag Malkush) and Dadra.
15. A taste of Indian: Music explained through poetry by Yorkshire Evening Post
The sound of Indian classical music will be explained through poetry in a unique event this weekend. The world poetry and Indian classical music festival at Seven Arts in Chapel Allerton, will use poetry to reflect the mood of classical music, performed live by leading musicians.
Ahmed Kaysher, the director of Saudha, Society of Poetry and Indain Music, said 'we are trying to connect people with Indian classical music -through poetry. We have chosen haunting verses of poets such as Keats to reflect the mood of clasical music we are playing.'
The two-day festival also features local poets performing their own work. Musicians include Chandra Chakraborty and Kamalbir Nandra.
16. Unique charity uses music and poetry to help disabled by Wimbledon Guardian by Lauren May, Chief Reporter
A unique charity that combines Indian music and poetry to help the disabled and vulnerable is celebrating a year of collaboration.
Chandra Chakraborty, 39, manager at Wimbledon library, has been singing since she was three and performing since she was six.
The Indian-born professional singer has twice performed for the Queen and sang at the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester, as well as venues all over the world.
Mrs Chakraborty, who moved to the UK in 2002, founded Saudha, the society of poetry and Indian music, last year with T M Ahmed Kaysher – a friend and Leeds-based poet.
A year on the pair hope their performances, which blend poetry and music together “like a flowing river” to create a “celestial surreal ambience”, will help people with learning difficulties to express themselves.
Mrs Chakraborty said: “Whenever I have performed I felt the audience who came are the people who like classical music, but not people from socially excluded backgrounds such as people with learning difficulties.
“We were discussing one day and we thought it could be a way of bringing people together.
“If we could combine poetry and classical music we could reach a whole new audience.”
While performing for all, the duo also run sessions specifically for those with learning difficulties at community centres, including Wimbledon Library, where the audience is asked to write a poem based on their impressions of Mrs Chakraborty’s performance.
She said: “For people with learning difficulties music and poetry is something that could be a better way for them to express their feelings and a way to communicate.”
Saudha will perform at the Morden Assembly Hall on Sunday December 16 in Tudor Drive, Morden.
17. Lyrics of Solitude by Tom Hall, Time & Leisure Magazine
On 16 December at Morden Assembly Hall, world poetry and classical Indian music will transcend the audience into the universe of dream and illusion.
According to Chandra Chakraborty, the main vocalist, this is the first event that combines both music and poetry to create something special. She enthusiastically explains ‘I don't think there are many groups around who work with children and people with learning disabilities to improve their imagination skills through classical Indian music and poetry’. Chandra, who has sung for Nelson Mandela as well as meeting the Queen on two occasions, began singing at the age of six and has performed in many major concerts in ‘India, England, America, Pakistan and South Africa.’
The event, Lyrics of Solitude, is an event of World Poetry and Indian Classical Music. It features Urdu and Bengali poetry along with the translations from Persian and Mexican poetry, set to the melodies of Indian classical vocal and instrumental music, which according to Chandra will ‘create a colourful and serene ambience to transcend the audience into the universe of dream and illusion.’ As she explains, ‘the two art forms complement each other very nicely – the music is never ending and we match the voices to the poetry.’
The idea behind combining both poetry and music was the work of two people, Chandra and TM Ahmed Kaysher, who is a poet. He works very hard behind the scenes and is one of the reasons why concerts such as Lyrics of Solitude take place. He is also the co founder of the organisation, Saudha – Society of Poetry and Indian Music.
Classical Indian music is something that Chandra is extremely passionate about. She describes it as never ending: ‘It’s like an ocean. It encompasses all emotions from happiness and joy to sadness and loneliness.’
The performance promises to be truly unique. ‘It is completely new - the whole concept of classical music harmoniously blended with poetry’ as Chandra explains.
They have performed a number of concerts all over the country including Leeds, Birmingham and Tower Hamlets, with this performance, Lyrics of Solitude focusing mainly on the theme of loneliness.
The aim of this particular performance ‘was to create a new audience, develop a new way of communication with socially excluded people and to get teenagers into poetry and music. We’ve done workshops in schools and we try to encourage youngsters to use their imagination skills.’ The concert is free to those with disabilities and Chandra explains it is these people who may benefit the most. It will give them a chance to express how they feel as they ‘can often feel lonely.’ Ideally they would like ‘to get all communities and backgrounds involved.’
So what can you expect? ‘You will enjoy a great evening of Sitar, Violin and vocals with world poetry.’ There will also be some very famous musicians that will be performing on the night that include Sanju Sahai, Baluji Shrivastav and Kamalbir Nandra. The poetry will be recited by Marianne Zeck, Najma Usman, Leesa Gazi and Basir Afridi.
It must be a wonderful feeling being part of something completely new – and knowing that you are really making a difference to people’s lives. ‘I feel a great sense of achievement and the love I get in return – it’s the main thing you can ever get. It feels like you are giving something back to the community.’
Chandra explains that ‘after the launch on 16 December, we will be hosting Classical Music and World poetry festivals as well as workshops across the whole country, and will have a good collection of poems written/imagined by children, those with learning disabilities and lonely individuals.’ The poems that are written during the workshops will be published in a publication that is printed four times a year.
Looking to the future, Chandra explains how they plan to expand all over the country, working with communities in libraries.
But for now, Lyrics of Solitude invites you to embark on a journey of celestial surreal ambience through the perfect harmonisation of poetry and music. The performance will take place on 16 December at Morden Assembly Hall and will last approximately three hours (5-8pm). Refreshments will be available to purchase. Get your tickets now!
Morden Assembly Hall, Tudor Drive, Morden, SM4 4PJ
5-8pm, £10 on the door, Free for those with disabilities
18. Classical Music gig hits right notes by Eastern Eye, London
A new Indian Classical music group started to attract youngsters to a different type of show mixing poetry and songs has got off to a bang.
Singer Chandra Chakraborty was one of the starts for the Lyrics Of Love concert at the Carriageworks Theatre Hall in Leeds this month. Chakraborty, along with musician and poet Ahmed Kaysher, both founded Saudha, Society Of Poetry and Music, which organised the event. Chandra, also The Library Manager from South London told EE the concert was a big success and the audience had a good time. MPs Fabian Hamilton and John Battle were in attendance, sang with the praise of the concert and gave a standing ovation.
19. Hitting the right notes: Indian Singer Chandra Chakraborty keen on bringing classical music to mass by Eastern Eye: Imran Choudhury
A TOP Indian classical singer who has performed for the Queen and Nelson Mandela has started a new musical group to attract young British Asians to the genre.
Chandra Chakraborty (pictured) recently cofounded Saudha – Society of Poetry and Music as a way of promoting classical Indian singing to the younger generation. The library manager from south London has been called the ‘Thumri Queen’ (a genre of Indian classical music) by giants such as sitar maestro Ravi Shankar.
Before coming to Britain in 2000 she worked as the principle vocal teacher of Indian consulate of Johannesburg in South Africa and was a music lecturer at Witwatersrand University.Chakraborty trained a group of 30 African students to perform Indian classical music in the presence of former south African president Nelson Mandela. She also performed for the Queen at her Jubilee celebrations in 2003.
“We are trying to create a new audience,”Chakraborty told EE. “I have been performing for over 30 years and what I’ve seen, especially in the west, is that Indian classical music does not create a new audience.“As soon as the younger generation in college and university hear something about Indian classical music, they think it’s boring.”Chakraborty along with her fellow co-founder Ahmed Kaysher are holding their first Saudha concert on September 1.
“The only way to get involved is with some kind of fusion. It’s nothing new because Ravi Shankar has done it before. I have done a lot of research with Ahmed and we thought we could attract people who are involved in poetry.
“There are people who have not heard Indian classical music before. When they come to the concert, they will listen to the poetry but then get a taste of Indian classical music.”Chakraborty has worked with children in primary schools in different boroughs of London and is currently the vocal teacher of Safforn Music School in east London.
Her mother Manju Chakraborty got her into singing from the age of three. She notes other teachers such as Guru Smt Malabika Kanan and Pandit A Kanan as influential in her career. She said reality TV shows have morphed the view of what a singer should be doing.
“A lot of the younger people somehow come first place or second place without any proper training,” Chakraborty explained.
“But I believe if you have proper training you have a base and will be able to go a long way. If you become famous overnight, you won’t have the dedication to spend time on training and improving yourself because you think you’ve made it.”
The poetry and classical music concert Lyrics of Love is taking place at the Carriageworks Theatre Hall, 3 Millenium Square in Leeds, LS2 3AD.
Tickets are £10 for adults and £5 for a child. For more information,
contact the box office on 0113
224 3801 or visit www.saud ha.org
20. Working with Saudha by Marianne Zeck, Actor, Poet
I have known Chandra Chakraborty for about seven Years. It has been a privilege to be asked to perform twice with Saudha atevents in December and January. The first performance at Morden Assembly Hall brought together diverse musicians, poets and people withlearning disabilities in a spellbinding evening of recitals woventhrough the music.The second performance at Raynes Park Library offered the Write Afreshgroup ( a group of people with learning disabilities) opportunities toread poems that had been written for Saudha's theme of `Lyrics ofSolitude` and drew in the local community.The audiences at both performances and workshops consisted of localpeople and groups such as the Merton Poets, Write Afresh Raynes ParkLibrary group, Wimbledon Library staff, Beyond Words Group, Schoolchildren, volunteers and members as well as diverse others fromdifferent parts of London and the UK.My own experience in performing with Saudha has been uplifting andheart warming as this company included me as if I was already a familymember. The music and poetry offered beauty and healing throughabsorbing words and images.With deep thanks to Chandra, Ahmed and all the lovely members ofSaudha.