A festival of classical and contemporary Indian music By Tara Arts and Sama Arts
Earth floor – 7 concerts – 50 musicians over 3 days
On the 50th anniversary of The Beatles’ trip to India, which revolutionised the perception of Indian music, Tara Theatre hosts a three-day festival of Indian classical and contemporary music in the intimate surroundings of its award-winning venue, which was designed to create harmony between the audience and performer. Easter Ragas features an exciting mix of British and Indian musicians, gathered on the banks of the railway line just ten minutes from Waterloo.
Made possible by support from the Cockayne Foundation, Easter Ragas opens on Friday 6 April with a sitar performance by Roopa Panesar, followed by Sufi qawwali by Abi Sampa, best known for her appearance on BBC’s The Voice.
Saturday 7 April programme features khayal vocalist Deepa Karnad, incredible vocal percussion Konnakol and Carnatic singer
Vamshikrishna Vishnudas, the Punjabi sounds of Amrit Kaur Lohia and ghazal poetry singer Mehtab Malhotra. Sunday 8 April opens with a percussion ensemble led by Shahbaz Hussain on the tabla, featuring several drums from across the subcontinent and the tar-shehnai, played by Kirpal Singh Panesar. The afternoon features khayal maestro Vijay Rajput in a solo performance. The festival closes with sarod maestro Arnab Chakrabarty with renowned tabla master Pandit Yogesh Samsi followed by the world-renowned Gundecha Brothers singing the ancient vocal form, dhrupad.
Roopa is the foremost exponent of the sitar in Europe today and is widely appreciated for her soulful
mastery of the instrument and raga music. A pupil of the renowned sitar guru Pandit Dharambir Singh
MBE, Roopa also receives occasional training from the renowned Pandit Arvind Parikh.
She released her debut album Khoj in 2011. Roopa performed in her debut tour of India in 2014 where
she played to vibrant audiences in Delhi, Mumbai and ITC-SRA, Kolkata. She has had the honour of
performing before and receiving appreciation from none other than the late Ustad Vilayat Khan.
Abi Sampa & Band
When Abi Sampa burst onto the BBC’s The Voice, she captured the hearts of the viewing public. Her
singing is described by Danny O’Donoghue as “haunting”.
The multi-talented Abi Sampa and her band of brilliant musicians draw their sound from a blend of
Qawwali, Carnatic and Western music. Through her captivating voice, virtuosity on the harmonium and
ability to coax beautiful sounds from the ancient veena, Abi presents a new style of music where different
sounds come together to create musical bliss.
Deepa Hattangady Karnad
A rising star of Indian classical music, Deepa has spent nearly two decades pursuing Hindustani vocals
under the tutelage of esteemed Gurus, including the doyenne of the Agra Gharana, Dr Lalith J. Rao of
Bangalore, Pandit Shrikrishna “Babanrao” Haldankar of Mumbai, the late Veena Sahasrabuddhe of Pune
and Parameshwar Hegde, also of Bangalore.
Endowed with an expressive voice, Deepa is appreciated for her keen sense of aesthetics and traditional
nuances. She has performed regularly on All India Radio in Bangalore and has given public concerts
across India and the UK.
Vamshikrishna Vishnudas is a talented vocalist from south India. He obtained his undergraduate degree
in Music from the Telugu University, Hyderabad. He has performed extensively in India and received
several prizes and awards as a young musician.
For over a decade and a half, Vamshikrishna has been working with many internationally renowned
musicians, dancers and dance teachers for their performances and productions. He has been a part of
several creative music and dance projects in the UK, Europe and Canada. He is currently a resident
artist at the Pandit Ram Sahai Sangeet Vidyalaya.
He has recently performed across Japan with the vocal band Yantra and featured in a couple of cross-cultural music albums produced by Martin Glover (Youth) in 2017. In 2005, he founded the organisation
Sampradaya to train and mentor students and to create regular opportunities for them to perform.
Amrit Kaur Lohia
Born in Tottenham and raised in Edmonton (London, UK) Amrit Kaur is a singer-songwriter, Sarangi
player and vocalist in the genres of Punjabi folk, jazz and soul. She also plays the mbira (Zimbabwe) and
dilruba. Based in London, she tours internationally as a performer, composer and workshop
facilitator. Amrit is an experienced youth worker, mentoring youth offenders and children in foster care.
She is the Founder/Director of humanized.org, a social enterprise dedicated to the humanising history and
social issues through the Arts.
Mehtab began singing at age 4 under the guidance of her father, late Raghubir Malhotra. She then
trained for years under Ustad Iqbal Ahmed Khan of the Delhi Gharana. Ghazal is her passion and her
first stage performance was at age 7, followed by many concerts in India and the UK. Her fondness for
the romantic and socially-charged poetry of Faiz, Mir, Ghalib, Zauq is evident from her repertoire. Among
the many feathers in her cap is a collaboration with the legendary musician Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.
She practices as a Barrister from Lincoln’s Inn, London and is a Senior Lecturer in Law.
Dr Vijay Rajput
Dr Rajput received his initial training in music from masters M G Deshpande, Vinay Chandra Mudgalya
and Madhup Mudgal. He later studied for several years with the legendary Pandit Bhimsen Joshi.
Rajput is as keen a teacher as he is a performer. He is a visiting lecturer in vocal music at Newcastle
University and the Leeds College of Music.
Arnab is an outstanding exponent of Hindustani raga music and is arguably among the top handful of
currently active sarod players. Arnab has studied music for over 30 years, of which he has been an
active performer for 18, giving hundreds of concerts worldwide to serious acclaim.
Trained by the late Kalyan Mukherjea (1943-2010) and Pandit Buddhadev Dasgupta (1933-2018), Arnab
represents the celebrated Radhika Mohan Maitra lineage of sarod music. He has been described by Dr
Mukherjee as “the finest representative today, of the musical values I inherited from Pandit Maitra”.
Sri Pandit Yogesh Samsi
Pandit Yogesh Samsi is one of those rare tabla players whose reputation has been built on his
consummate artistry in both fields of accompaniment and solo playing. He is one of the leading lights of
the Punjab Gharana style of tabla playing. Among the foremost disciples of Ustad Alla Rakha, Yogesh is
widely respected for his vast knowledge and mastery of mathematically intricate tabla compositions. He
is also known for his distinctive touch and sound and is sought after as an accompanist by all leading
performers of Hindustani music.
The Gundecha Brothers
Umakant and Ramakant Gundecha are the leading exponents of the Dhrupad style of music. They are
among the most active performers in Indian and international circuits. They were conferred one of the
highest civilian awards, the Padma Shri, in 2012 by the Indian government for their contribution to
Dhrupad and Indian classical music.
In addition to their conventional university education, the brothers received intensive training in Dhrupad
singing from Ustad Zia Fariduddin Dagar and Ustad Zia Mohiuddin Dagar at the Dhrupad Kendra,
Bhopal, for over a decade. They are accompanied on the pakhawaj, a barrel-shaped two-headed drum,
by their third brother Akhilesh, who learnt his craft from maestros Pandit Shrikant Mishra and Raja
Chhatrapati Singh JuDeo
Shahbaz Hussain is fast emerging as one of the most promising tabla virtuosos of his generation. He has received numerous accolades for his captivating performances, including receiving the prestigious “Son of Lahore” Award from the Government of Pakistan in 2008.Shahbaz began his grooming in the art of tabla at age five with his father, the late Ustad Mumtaz Hussain – a prominent vocalist. He later went on to study with tabla legends Ustad Faiyaz Khan from the Delhi Gharana (school), the late Ustad Shaukat Hussain Khan from the Punjab Gharana and finally the late Ustad Allah Rakha Khan. Shahbaz Hussain will be part of the Taal Vadya Katcheri an Indian Percussion Ensemble with five other renowned artists who will play on pakhawaj, ghatam, mridangam, Kanjira and Moosing ( Jews Harp)
Supporting Artists include: Bhupinder Chaggar – tabla, Saleel Tambe – tabla, Kirpal Panesar – dilruba / tar shehnai, Balu Raghuraman – violin
Abiram Sahathevan – kanjira, Prakash Ramachandran – konnokol / kanjira / mridangam / ghatam, Prathap Ramchandran – ghatam/ konnokol, Tina Rawal – tanpura, Af Malhotra – tabla
Sunil Jadhav – harmonium, Amrit Singh – tabla, Fran Karbhari – harmonium, Siddharth Singh – Guitar, and Guest Musicians
Tara Arts – Connecting Worlds
Tara has established over 40 years ago with a clear mission – to make
imaginative connections across cultures.
The award-winning Tara Theatre expresses this multicultural vision in bricks and
mortar – with its antique Indian doors, London brick and a stage floor made of
earth from Devon. www.tara-arts.com
Sama Arts Network is one of the UK’s oldest and most influential arts
organisations in the genre of traditional and contemporary South Asian arts. It
also presents Orchestral, Jazz and World Music.
Established in 1977 by music producer Jay Visvadeva, Sama has curated more
than 1,350 events with acclaimed artists from the UK and other parts of the
world. These have included tours, concerts, festivals, educational talks,
workshops, seminars, lecture-demos, film screenings, and visual and performing
arts events. His team are known for its commitment to artistic integrity and
showcasing the best of South Asian arts.
Sama’s area of work is in the field of curating festivals, project commissions of
new works, label management, consultancy, recording, music publishing and
securing intellectual property rights. www.sama.co.uk
Over the next few weeks, India Currents will bring you to the festival and the festival to you!
Credits: Suman Bhuchar