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Rajan & Sajan Mishra | © Sandeep Virdee/MRPR
Rajan & Sajan Mishra | © Sandeep Virdee/MRPR
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Get A Taste Of India On The Southbank With The Darbar Festival

Picture of Harriet Clugston
Updated: 14 September 2016
Returning to London’s Southbank Centre this September with its largest ever double-bill concerts, the Darbar Festival is a three-day celebration of classical Indian music, dedicated to the memory of tabla teacher Bhai Gurmit Singh Ji Virdee. We select the festival highlights, including classical concerts, inspirational discussions, yoga sessions and film.

See East meet West at Universal Notes

The first day of the festival ends with a groundbreaking show bringing together the classical music traditions of both India and the West. Developed through intensive workshops in India and the UK in a year-long project, the collaboration sees the London Philharmonia Orchestra join forces with bansuri player Rakesh Chaurasia, sitar player Niladri Kumar, Saraswati veena player Jayanthi Kumaresh and Dr. S. Karthick on the ghatam. Moving away from the simple jam or fusion styles of bygone years, the concert will bring both styles together to create ‘a work of depth and beauty’ inspired by the Indian raga tradition.

Niladri Kumar|©RaviChandarana/MRPR
Niladri Kumar | ©RaviChandarana/MRPR

Join a discussion on the role of Indian women in music

Three of India’s finest classical musicians — famed singer Shubha Mudgal, vainika Jayanthi Kumaresh, and Aruna Sairam, vocalist and Vice-Chairman of the Sangeet Natak Akademi, India’s leading institution for music and dance — make up an all-female panel to discuss the role of women in the male-dominated Indian music tradition. They’ll discuss the challenges facing women today, while also looking at the fascinating history of sringara (erotic love, one of the nine rasas, or Indian aesthetics) and bhakti (devotional expression).

Aruna Sairam|©Arnhel de Serra/MRPR
Aruna Sairam | Courtesy of MRPR

Catch a morning concert

Start your day off with a tranquil morning concert overlooking the River Thames. On Saturday’s session, British-based sitar player Roopa Panesar is joined by legendary tabla player Pandit Anindo Chatterjee, while on Sunday dhrupad singer Vishal Jain makes his UK debut accompanied by jori prodigy Surdarshan Chana.

Roopa Panesar|©Arnhel de Serra/MRPR
Roopa Panesar | ©Arnhel de Serra/MRPR

Try your hand at musical yoga

Feel your stresses melt away at these popular one-hour hatha yoga sessions, with the melodic sounds of the classically trained guitarist Harmeet Virdee accompanying you as you strike your poses. Sessions cater to all abilities and are open to the public and festival goers alike, with yoga mats provided.

Hear famed sarod player Ustad Amjad Ali Khan reflect on his life’s work

With 50 long, musical years under his belt, Ustad Amjad Ali Khan should have a tale or two to tell. Having been awarded the Padma Vibhushan (the second-highest civilian honour in India) in 2001, Khan is the cream of India’s music crop — in the US, he has been granted honorary citizenship by three cities, with Massachusetts naming April 20th as Amjad Ali Khan day back in 1984. His very musically-minded family even claim to have invented the sarod, several generations back. Khan will be joined on stage by his wife Subhalakshmi to give a candid insight into their lives.

Amjad Ali Khan|© Sandeep Virdee/MRPR
Amjad Ali Khan | © Sandeep Virdee/MRPR

Dabar runs from Friday September 16th-Sunday 18th 2016. More information here.

Southbank Centre, Belvedere Rd, London SE1 8XX, United Kingdom, +44 20 7960 4200