Society of Poetry and Indian Music
11. Sense and Sensibility by Asian Culture Vulture: Sailesh Ram
World poetry and classical music combine in unique offering…
IT STARTED a little more than a year ago and as no more than an idea to combine poetry and classical music on the same bill.
On Saturday (September 14), Saudha, Society of Poetry and Indian Music, celebrates just over a year in existence with their second major poetry and concert evening in Leeds.
Their first, in the same town, was a success and gave them the confidence to continue their unique offering, which has now developed into a platform for world poetry, alongside classical Indian music.
Now, some eight concerts and with a schools programme under their belt, they return with a two-day programme which shows their growing popularity and developing confidence.
Among those playing over the weekend are Shabaz Hussain on tabla and Kamalbir Nandra on violin, while Sumana Basu performs ghazals, Dipanjan Guha plays sitar, and cello player Gemma Irving is also on the bill.
“We were not sure in the beginning,” confessed Chandra Chakraborty to www.asianculturevulture.com . “But it seemed like a good idea, the people who tend to like classical music, also like poetry.”
An accomplished singer, she has performed internationally and is well known in India as a classical chanteuse, and is one of the two driving forces behind Saudha.
For the other, Saudha director, Ahmed Kaysher (pictured), a Bengali poet, it has borne out his own instincts to bring these two disciplines together.
He told ACV: “We thought it will attract the audiences for both art forms and thus we can create a new audience from a diverse background.”
And so it has proved, Saudha’s event in Leeds will bring together poets from different countries, languages and traditions – there are English, Bengali, Urdu, Persian and even Somali ones reading on the night with translations too.
“They are young poets in their 20s and it all helps to bring people together. They contacted us and wanted to work with us,” explained Chakraborty.
The evenings start with the poetry and it often opens up into debate and explores philosophy and aesthetics and looks to encourage a space for ideas and thought.
The poetry helps to set up the mood music for the evening – and it is important for Saudha to engage young people and introduce them to an art form they feel can be somewhat neglected.
For Chakraborty, Saudha is filling a definitive gap – that between the populist and the more broadly classical, where crowds are more difficult to attract.
“Bollywood concerts are always popular, but with classical music it is harder and young people do not come,” said Chakraborty.
“We would like to see our concerts attracting more and new diverse audiences from different cultures and the verses play a vital role in providing a spiritual remedy in this age of alienation,” said Kaysher, who has a penchant for deconstruction and the work of the 20th century French philosopher, Jacques Derrida.
Saudha’s concerts in Leeds are only £5 and the low price is designed to attract young people and others curious about the concept.
“This is to make it accessible. We have more of us now – we are very happy that the first trial was so successful and people who came for the first concert are coming back and everyone likes the quality – we never compromise on the quality. The musicians want to play with us – because the know we have high standards. Shabaz has performed internationally and so have I.”
Saudha relies heavily on ticket sales to stage these events, but its growing popularity has seen it receive further invitations and don’t be surprised it comes to a town near you.
12. Saudha by BBC Radio - Leeds
'Saudha - one of the fast becoming leading Indian classical music promoters'
13. 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
14. 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
15. 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.
16. Lyrics of Love by Saudha, Society Of Poetry and Indian Music by Fabian Hamilton, the Labour MP for Leeds North East
Fabian Hamilton, the Labour MP for Leeds North East attended a performance of Indian music by Chandra Chankraborty at Leeds Carriage Works on 1st September 2012. Recalling the event afterwards, Fabian described the profound spiritual impact on him that the music had provoked. “Chandra is a superb singer and performer. Her music is ethereal; it lifted my consciousness into a wholly different dimension. I was taken effortlessly from my limited experience of western musical expression into a wholly new rich musical culture inspired in part by the writings of Rabindranath Tagore, the Indian poet who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913. The way that Chandra’s performance blended the flute, guitar, violin and human voice made the concert truly unforgettable”.
17. Review of Chandra Chakraborty's semi classical vocal album by Fita Weyra
Background profile Growing up, Chandra’s classical talents were recognized early on by the local Indian Classic Music community. She graduated from two of the most prestigious Indian Classic Music schools (Sangeet Prabhakar and Sangeet Visharad) at age 12 and began performing regularly at the All India Radio and Television. Jump a few years and she was selected by ICCR and moved to Johannesburg as the teacher of Indian music at the Indian Consulate. At this time, Chandra expanded her performance widely in such major cities as Durban, Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, the Sun City Superbowl and even further African villages in Mozambique and Zimbabwe. After an intensive few years as a lecturer of music in history and society, she founded three music schools in Johannesburg where students to this day learn under some of Chandra’s advanced students. Chandra treated Nelson Mandela with an impressive performance by her students in a career highlighting moment. Chandra’s Classic Music album “ Thumri Dadra” Sealed under Chandra’s album “Chandra- Thumri Dadra”, is a classic treasure that will softly lead you soul and heart first in an oasis unlike any that wetted your interior appetites. Track 1 opens its gates with echoes of monolithic heights atop operatic sorrow, a foreign tongue between its glimmering composition cries of Shakespearean magnitude in its weight of emotions; unsentimental in its daring gaze down your memory lane. You will remember so much, re-evaluate those pains for their wisdom bearing gifts. Chandra’s voice, full of patience, the kindness of a musician who locked eyes with the abyss and brought its soul back. Her voice, that instrument of healing. Long drawn out notes perfectly timed into a jigsaw of brave rhythms that tough you so deep in the heart, deep in the body, and miles into your attentive being floating to the drum beats of subtle intricate powers. The second track paces itself like the pattern of a comforting conversation with an old friend. Whispers of secrets held in the hearts for decades draw themselves out in your bones as you listen to Chandra’s command of composition, showcasing impeccable mastery in the art of reminding your mind to chew one bite of forgotten realization at a time. Casting the listener to the past, swinging sensually to the present and blowing the worry off the future with the skill of a mythical magician. With a total of five tracks, “Thumri Dadra” is an album by a master of her field.
18. Working with Saudha by Marianne Zeck, Actor, Poet
I have known Chandra Chakraborty for about seven Years and have always been impressed with her as both the Head of Raynes Park and now Wimbledon Library. As an international performer with tremendous talent and discipline and also her commitment to creating warm community events through the library service and her performing arts activities. It has been a privilege to be asked to perform twice with Saudha at events in December and January. The first performance at Morden Assembly Hall brought together diverse musicians, poets and people with learning disabilities in a spellbinding evening of recitals woven through the music. The second performance at Raynes Park Library offered the Write Afresh group ( a group of people with learning disabilities) opportunities to read poems that had been written for Saudha's theme of `Lyrics of Solitude` and drew in the local community. The audiences at both performances and workshops consisted of local people and groups such as the Merton Poets, Write Afresh Raynes Park Library group, Wimbledon Library staff, Beyond Words Group, School children, volunteers and members as well as diverse others from different parts of London and the UK. My own experience in performing with Saudha has been uplifting and heart warming as this company included me as if I was already a family member. The music and poetry offered beauty and healing through absorbing words and images. With deep thanks to Chandra, Ahmed and all the lovely members of Saudha.
19. 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.
20. 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.