Society of Poetry and Indian Music


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1. Music World Shocked by violinist Swarna Khuntia's sudden demise by Saudha Chakraborty

Musicians, students. music lovers from all across the world are in a state of shock by sudden death of an acclaimed violinist Dr Swarna Khuntia. She died with Corona infection on Thursday 15 April 2021. She was diagnosed Corona positive on Saturday and was admitted in hospital on Monday with serious breathing issue. Music world is terribly shocked by this unexpected demise. 

The finest Hindustani violinist of this time in India Kala Ramnath said from USA " This is so sad| This was so quick! She loved my music and she was always in touch! I have no word to express my feeling! She  certainly a wonderful violinist and an amazing human-being!"

An prominent violinist and Ghazal singer based in the UK Kamalbir Singh said 'Swarna ji was too young to go like this. This is tremendous loss for the world of violin and world-music, in general"

A Hindustani classical vocalist Sanhita Nandi from USA said "This is just hard to believe! So sad to learn about the departure of a great soul! May her soul rest in peace!"

A London based classical vocalist Chiranjeeb Chakraborty said "I am speechless! What a shocking death of an amazingly talented young violinist who could perhaps offer so much to the music lovers of the world"

The co-founder of Saudha and a London based Hindustani classical vocalist Chandra Chakraborty said 'I was introduced to her divine music and recently and she was supposed to join one of my interactive show by the end of April. She was an amazing human-being and an absolutely wonderful musician, too. My heartfelt condolence to her bereaved family."

A Leeds based sem-classical vocalist Sumana Mallik Basu said "I still can't believe that she is no more! Swarna ji was a wonderful human-being with a golden heart. It's indeed a big loss for the classical music fraternity. May her soul rest in eternal peace






2. Saudha’s Ghazal and Thumri Festival in London: ‘Exploring to develop a Western Gharana by Bangla Mirror

Ghazal and Thumri festival organised by one of the prominant promoters of Indian Classical Music of this country, Saudha, Society of Poetry and Indian Music-‘made a true valentine treat’ for many Londoners at Morden Assembly Hall and Raynes  Park Library Hall.

Leading musicians, poets from different languages and reciters made a truly engaging and high quality collaborative art through each performance on both days of the festival. Diverse spectrum of houseful crowed were mesmerized by the soft and relaxing Indian semi-classical music and relevant verses from great traditional poets like Lorca, Tagore, Hafiz, Keats which were set to interprethe mood of music.

‘That was indeed a tremendous and memorable valentine’s treat’ that’s how Michelle one of the audience described her experience. ‘The music was so soothing, I couldn’t even keep my eyes open’ she added’. ‘Chandra was glowing with whatever form of music she was singing’.

'It was wonderful to witness these breathtaking magical moments’ -said Robert, one of the local journalists.

The festival was officially inaugurated by the director of Nehru Centre Sangeeta Bahadur. Emerging semi-classical vocalist Farzana Sifat started with one of the famous Thumri by Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali ‘Yad piya ki ayee’ at Morden Assembly Hall. Erik Schelander, mainly a Schubert vocalist and Shagufta Sharmeen Taniya, mainly a fiction writer recietd from Hafiz in different phase to interpret the melancholic melody of love and visceral pain.

The serene ambience created by Farzana was then taken over by one of the highly acclaimed musicians Mehboob Nadeem. He sang few beautiful, deeply spiritual renditions of Ghalib and other traditional prominant lyricists and gradually pulled the audience into deeper mystery of music. Erik’s accompaniment in recitation from Ghalib, Keats and Tagore, with his high quality baritone voice complemented the music both to decode the meaning and to intensify the mood.

Tabla Player Yusuf Ali Khan and Keybord player Sunil Jadhav were simply the inttrinsic partners of the art of magic and musement all the way through.

After a short break, one of the maestros of Indian classical music Chandra Chakraborty sat on the stage with Sunil Jadhav, Yusuf Ali khan, Erik Schelander, Shagufta Sharmeen Taniya and Dr Siddhartha Kargupta. She took the serene ambience into the phase of magical depth and at the crest of the climax with her amazingly powerful voice while singing pure Kheyal and Thumri. Her incredibly high-speed Tan-Sargam, sense-sanitizing tonal melody; accurate excution and delivery of each note, amplification of soul-connecting temper through music literally captivated the houseful audience in a deep obsession.

The event ended up with a short recital of Sitar by Mehboob Nadeem and a brief speech by the deputy mayor of Merton Council Laxmi Attawar as well as the direcotor of Saudha T M Ahmed Kaysher.The last day of the festival started with Erik’s wonderful rendition of Traubadour and a young talented singer Ekjot Kaur’s brief version of Kheyal. Then few celebrated poets that include David Lee Margon, Mahfuz Ali Mir, Scott farquharson and Shaila Simi read independent poetry with background music by Abu Emran.

Young and eminent semi-classical singer Sayan Gupta sang couple of Ghazals beautifully from Hariharan and Farzana Sifat sang few romantic and heart-perforating compositions by the poet of Bengal Kazi Nazrul Islam.

The two-day festival reached to its conclusion by Chandra Chakraborty’s sublime and unique presentations of Kheyal and Dadra.’I felt like I was taken out from this real world for a while. Such a powerful music it was. Such an unique experience I have!’ said Ana, one of the audience at Raynes Park library hall.


3. Indian singers perform with Merton poets at Ghazal and Thumri Festival by Wimbledon Guardian by Louisa Clarence-Smith, Reporter

Indian singers collaborated with Merton poets over the weekend for two shows weaving together classical music and spoken word performances.

Hosted by Saudha, the Society of Poetry and Indian Music, performers including leading Hindistani classical vocalist Chandra Chakraborty entertained crowds at Morden Assembly Hall and Raynes Park Library.

The sessions, which were accompanied by Merton poets including Erik Schelander, were part of Saudha's touring Ghazal and Thumri festival, celebrating two styles of semi-classical music.

Ahmed Kaysher, festival organiser, said the lyrics and mood of the Indian music were interpreted through traditional and contemporary verses of English poetry and "seamlessly intertwined with the thread of music".

Ghazal is originally an Arabic verse form dealing with loss and romantic love. A Ghazal is a poem made up of couplets, two-line stanzas.

There is no specific rhyme scheme or pattern to these couplets, and the poem may contain any number of them.

Thumri is another North Indian vocal form and is based on romantic-devotional literature.

The words are strictly adhered to, and the singer attempts to interpret them with melodic improvisations.

Mr Kaysher said: "Saudha organises high quality Indian Classical Music concerts and festivals gluing up with other form of arts from around the globe.

"This classical music does have a remedial and therapeutic impact on the modern human being, apart from it's beauty as a serious art form.

"We also connect with children into our workshops.

"We help people to be creative and to develop their imagination involving them in workshops where attendees are asked to write the images in a poetic form while the music is being played and those verses predominantly in English language are then intertwined with music through recitation."


4. Exploring New forms and a 'Western Gharana' Saudha's two-day music festival by Asian Culture Vulture: Sailesh Ram

Searching for a new type of synthesis and widening the popularity of the Indian classical arts are two of this organisation’s aims as it kicks off its programme for 2015…

HUMBLE it may have been in its origins but few could deny its ambitions are as lofty and noble as they come.

Saudha, Society of Indian poetry and music, is hosting a special two-day festival of Ghazals and Thumri, starting this Saturday (February 14).

Billed as a Valentine’s treat, as well as musicians of both genres performing over the two evenings, as is customary with Saudha, there will be also be poetry and recitals.

Both performances take place a few short miles apart, on Saturday at the Morden Assembly Hall and on Sunday at Raynes Park Library Hall, in South London.

From its inception three years ago, and the idea of librarian and poet Ahmed Kaysher and singer and librarian Chandra Chakraborty, the society has grown in stature and repute, capping off a successful 2014 with a performance at the Southbank, one of the country’s premier classical music venues.

Chakraborty, who has recorded several albums as a classical Hindustani singer, also performed at last year’s Darbar Festival – the country’s largest and best known Indian classical musical festival, which routinely plays host to some of the genre’s biggest figures.

Kaysher, founder and co-director, now sees Saudha’s cultural activities as a fully-fledged ‘campaign’. Created to bring the classical Indian arts closer together, it has found receptive audiences for its mix of music, dance and poetry and harks back to an age when all three grew out of a shared heritage.

Kaysher told “We are in a campaign to create a new audience for Indian classical and semi-classical music in the West through as many artistic means and experiments as possible.

“This festival will help us connect with a bigger audience because of the widespread popularity and extremely melodious nature of Ghazals and Thumri as the form of music.”

Both Ghazals and Thumri – a style of music that celebrates the exploits of the Hindu deity, Lord Krishna – are less austere than some strands of Indian classical music.

It has always been Saudha’s intention to break down barriers and widen access and reach out to communities who have little to no experience of Indian classic music.

Inviting poets – who often wrote in English but reminisced about distant lands and other cultures – to perform their work aided this development and set Saudha apart from other similar organisations dedicated to music or dance. Indeed, it is rare to find a group that believes in dance and music going together, both with individual performances and collaborative efforts.

“We are are actively engaged in a diverse range of seamless fusion with Western and world music, as well as other relevant art forms without compromising their purity,” added Kaysher.

The softly-spoken Kaysher, who originates from Bangladesh, is not shy about the organisation’s unfolding vision and ambition.

In the sub-continent, especially in the 17th and 18th centuries, it was common for musicians and families of musicians to develop their own distinctive sound, tradition and ideologies. These came to be known as ‘gharanas’ and were often associated with towns from which they originated – Gwalior, Agra and Jaipur, to name just three.

“We actually believe we can formulate a version of ‘western gharana’ of Indian classical music – that was actually the vision that motivated us from day one,” he told us.

Saudha has hosted performances all over the country and continues to expand its venue bases. It hopes to return to the Southbank Centre this year and host a performance at the Royal Albert Hall.

Playing on Saturday are Chandra Chakraborty; Mehboob Nadeem, sitarist and ghazal singer; semi-classical vocalist Farzana Sifat, and another ghazal specialist Dr Priya Bhagawat. Among the musicians are Yousuf Ali Khan on tabla and
Sunil Jadhav on keyboard. Erik Schelander will be among the poets/reciters.

Sunday sees a similar arrangement of singers and they will be joined by Abu Emran on keyboard and pianist, Niloy Amin. Among the poets performing are Ziba Karabassi, Mir Mahfuz Ali, David Lee, Shaila Simi.

The performances are supported by London Borough of Merton and Merton Library Services.

Picture: Chandra Chakraborty (centre)


5. Saudha launches Thumri and Ghazal Festival in London by Bangla Mirror

Saudha, Society of Poetry and Indian Music, one of the country’s fast-becoming leading Indian classical concert organisers  is offering a very special  Valentine’s treat with  two romantic and spiritually enrapturing genres of Indian semi-classical music on this Valentine’s day (14 February) and the day after (15 February). 

The music will be interpreted through traditional and contemporary poetry in English which are set to complement and interpret the mood and the meaning of music for the global audience.Supported by London Borough of Merton and Merton library services, the society has already introduced two workshops mainly for children with learning difficulties and vulnerable adults on Indian music and poetry in Wimbledon library on last 9 and 22 January.

The two-day Ghazal and Thumri Festival will now feature one of the finest Indian classical vocalists Chandra Chakraborty, Ghazal singer and satirist Mehboob Nadeem, Semi-classical vocalists Farzana Sifat and Priya Bhagwat, Actor and reciter Erik Schelander etc. on first day of the performance happening at Morden Assembly Hall from 6.30pm. On 15 February, the second day of the festival, an Iranian exiled poet Ziba Karabassi, critically acclaimed poet Mir Mahfuz Ali, David Lee Margon, Erik Schelander and Shaila Simi will read their poems on the mood of music while Chandra Chakraborty, Farzana Sifat, Sayan Gupta, Priya Bhagwat and young pianist Niloy Amin  will perform the renditions of both seamlessly  fused and pure Ghazals and Thumris at Raynes Park library hall from 5pm.

 Director of Saudha, Ahmed Kaysher said: “Merton is one of those places where the richness of different cultures around the globe merge so vividly and historically. At previous events we have been fascinated by the wide range of people from different cultures coming to watch the high quality musical performances. We intertwine Indian music with Western classical music like Troubadour and Western poetry from Keats, Sylvia Plath and Lorca to interpret the mood of the music for an international audience. A ticket to the festival is an ideal treat for Valentine’s Day that’s a bit different.”


6. Interview: Saudha launches Indian classical music festival in Merton by Wimbledon Guardian by Louisa Clarence-Smith, Reporter

An Indian classical music festival promises to enrapture audiences when performers descend on Merton next month.

The two-day Ghazal and Thumri Festival will feature hypnotic, spiritually enrapturing genres of Indian music, interpreted through English poetry to communicate with an audience from all cultural backgrounds.

Hosted by Saudha, the Society of Poetry and Indian Music, the festival is supported by Merton Council and Merton library services.

Louisa Clarence-Smith catches up with performer and Wimbledon library manager Chandra Kargupta, as she prepares for the festival.

Louisa Clarence-Smith: Why did you want to get involved with Saudha?

Chandra Kargupta: I am truly moved by the idea and conception of Saudha that is delving into the development of new but highly communicative way connecting audience into classical music.

I like the idea of taking it as a campaign in order to build up new audience of this poignant form of music.

I like Saudha's idea of working with leading performers around the globe and although they fuse with other art forms, they never compromise on the purity of any art form.

LCS: Where were you born, where do you live now and how long have you lived in the UK?

CK: I was Born in India and I have been living in London for the last 14 years.

LCS: How would you describe Hindustani classical music?

CK: India has two leading waves of classical music. One is Hindustani and other is Carnataki.

The basic construction of the melody that we create through vocal or instrument are same and we have different melody for different time of the day as well as different seasons .

I am mainly a Kheyal singer, the pure classical genre of Hindustani classical music. But I also perform Semi-classical like Ghazal and Thumri.

I was so blessed in a sense that the doyens like Ravi Shankar blessed me wholeheartedly after listening to my Thumri.

LCS: Who or what inspired you to become a singer?

CK: I think music is in my blood. I started singing from the age of three and was invited to perform on stage at the age of six.

My mother is a great singer and since my childhood I have heard pure classical music at home every single day.

The commitment towards the art was my main focus from childhood. I received the gold medal in Thumri from All India Radio at the age of 16, received the national scholarship from the Indian government and was admitted as a research scholar at the most prestigious institution of Indian classical music at the age of 12.

LCS: Why do you enjoying performing Indian classical music?

CK: I think myself as an ambassador of Indian classical music who enjoys performing for serious art lovers and for those who takes classical music as therapy.

I like the magic of transcending audience to another plane by the intricate ascending and descending order of musical melody.

LCS: Why do you think it’s important to share Indian classical music?

CK: For its beauty and intricacy as a serious and the most ancient art form of the globe and its sacred impact on human soul.

Like Western classical, Indian classical music is very celestial and therapeutic music.

The music has so many stupendous elements in its inner mechanism that any global audience from any background can enjoy and appreciate the endless beauty in it.

Indian classical music is also widely used as therapy for different mental illness.

Ghazal and Thumri Festival; Morden Assembly Hall, Tudor Drive; February 14, 6.30pm; Raynes Park Library, Approach Road; February 15, 5pm; £5;; 07737828922.


7. Indian music and poetry festival comes to Merton by Merton Council publication

Saudha, Society of Poetry and Indian Music, a classical music concert organiser, will be hosting a two-day Ghazal and Thumri Festival at Morden Assembly Hall on 14 February at 6.30pm and at Raynes Park Library on 15 February at 5.00pm.

The festival will showcase performances of various types of Indian Romantic semi-classical music. The music will be interpreted through traditional and contemporary English poetry which will complement and interpret the mood and the meaning of music for the audience.

The society will also feature a workshop at Wimbledon Library on 22 January from 6.30pm. At the workshop, poets and musicians will bring the words and music to life and offer a cultural experience for people interested in world poetry.

Director of Saudha, Ahmed Kaysher, said: “Merton is one of those places where the richness of different cultures around the globe merge so vividly and historically. At previous events we have been fascinated by the wide range of people from different cultures coming to watch the high quality musical performances. We intertwine Indian music with Western classical music like Troubadour and Western poetry from Keats, Sylvia Plath and Lorca to interpret the mood of the music for an international audience. A ticket to the festival is an ideal treat for Valentine’s Day that’s a bit different.”



8. Morning Raga Addiction by Southbank's Website: Darbar Festival

Morning Raga Addiction

In a space overlooking the London Eye and the Palace of Westminster, the scene is set for Chandra Chakraborty to immerse you into rare morning ragas.

Based in London, Chakraborty is a rising star in both khayal and light classical Indian vocals. London's own tabla maestro Sanju Sahai, who traces his musical lineage back to 1780, accompanies her.

Level 5 Function Room at Royal Festival Hall


Chandra Chakraborty khayal vocal
Ajay Joglekar harmonium
Sanju Sahai tabla

tion Room at Royal Festival Hall.



9. 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 . “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.


10. Saudha by BBC Radio - Leeds

'Saudha - one of the fast becoming leading Indian classical music promoters'