Southbank Centre celebrates classical music in all its forms and Darbar Festival features Indian classical music performed by world-class musicians from India and the UK. The festival offers you the rare opportunity to hear Hindustani, Carnatic and Dhrupad traditions that have been evolving for millennia.
‘Indian classical music is simply one of the world’s finest classical forms,’ enthuses Sandeep Virdee, Darbar Festival’s Artistic Director.
‘The Indian classical music raga tradition has its origins in the Vedas, the ancient sacred texts of the Hindus, and was passed down orally until the last century when it was first notated. Sadly, however, it remains one of India’s most overlooked art forms with insufficient investment in ensuring its legacy continues. This means that superb musicians often die in total obscurity.’
‘In the West everyone knows about Bollywood and some have heard a handful of the mainstream classical maestros like Ravi Shankar and Zakir Hussain – but there is a whole array of phenomenal musicians who have rarely been heard outside India. These musicians include Chitrangana Agle-Reshwal, the only female pakhawaj (double sided drum) player, who performs a rare solo followed by a talk with the audience. There are UK debut performances by Ram Deshpande, regarded as one of the most talented up and coming maestros of Indian vocals, and Pushpraj Koshti, who plays the surbahar – an instrument like a bass sitar.
Whilst Darbar features ‘the highest quality performances of Indian classical music’ (BBC Radio 3) it does not just focus on established performers. Virdee sees the Festival as ‘an opportunity to help develop up and coming UK artists. For me, Indian classical music belongs to all of us – it is our global heritage – so I make it my mission to present it in its truest form.’
The Darbar Festival features 15 concerts, ‘in conversation’ sessions and an Indian classical music appreciation course. There is something to please everyone, from ardent followers of the genre to complete novices. The concerts have been timed for you to immerse yourself in ragas (set notes that create a melody) at the correct time of day to maximise your enjoyment and connection to this most astounding music. In particular the concerts on Saturday and Sunday run from 10am to 10.30pm so that musicians can play the ragas at their traditional period of the day.
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