London’s Winter Rhapsody – Dhruv Art’s LIAF festival is back with an eclectic buzz
For as little as £10, pre-booked, the London International Arts Festival celebrates the rich diversity of world music, through the lens of complex Indian classical forms. From South Indian Classical dance, in form of ballet, created with London based dancers, to the top saxophonist of India who performs with the foremost exponent of the rare South Indian thavil drum, this festival brings musicians from the world over, to the vibrant city of London.
This year, 4 venues host the festival, just as the British winter begins, with a whole host of world premieres, UK premieres and London curtain raisers, headlined by Mercury nominee Susheela Raman, who performs with her UK band, at the Jazz Cafe.
At the Brunel museum, one can explore the Navarasas, the nine emotional moods as captured in classic Indian literature and art, to basking in the the North Indian Khayal style of singing filling the air.
The vibrant Richmix in the hipster area of Shoreditch, gives host to sounds like Afrobeat, Caribbean rhythms, Cuban salsa, and African mambo, Ethiopian melodies, Chakraphonics from Bangalore (South India) and electric violins with visuals, as well as workshops, which the festival has always seen great success with.
The Redbridge townhall, where this all began, just 3 years ago, allows a sensory and eco-learning dance experience of the 5 elements of Water, Fire, Wind, Earth and Ether, choirs from the local vicinity, vocals by Dr Nagaraj Rao Havaldar, a leading vocalist of Kirana and Jaipur Atraulli Gharana of North India, and the genius who has enthralled the world for 65 years with his sax, the veteran who performs his only UK show in 2014, Kadri Gopalnath, alongside India’s rhythm king, AK Palanivel.
450 entries came online via Sonicbids, and the festival was then carefully curated by its artistic director Dr Jyotsna Srikanth of Dhruv Arts, hailed as a “mesmerising” musical artist in her own right, by The Guardian newspaper. This is her vision: “I want to build on the success of last year’s LIAF where we had an audience reach of 7000 people attending our festival. We have 4 fantastic venues, award-winning artists and musical legends, as well as emerging artists showcasing their work. It promises to be a magical journey and a wonderful insight for Londoners to embrace and experience what the international arts scene has to offer.”
British headliner Susheela Raman says: “Am thrilled to be headlining LIFF festival at the Jazz Cafe on November 9th. I’ll be previewing songs from our forthcoming album “Queen Between” with some amazing musicians including Sam Mills (guitar), Aref Durvesh (tabla), Pirashanna Thevarajah (mridangam/ghatam/morsing), Kartik Raghunathan (violin and voice), Danny Keene on cello/keyboards.”
Stalwart saxophone player from India, Kadri Gopalnath enthuses: “I have performed quite a few times, in the UK but this trip for LIAF is super special, as I am bringing a repertoire that is fresh and rare, to fit the international flavour of the festival. From working with double Grammy and double Oscar winner AR Rahman, to my many musical albums, I find that live concerts are my most favourite medium, to resonate with audiences. I am open to your requests, so do share what you’d like to hear me playing, over LIAF’s social media channels and I shall incorporate some of it in my only London show in 2014.”
Srikanth Sharma, the festival director shares: “I started working on a theme that struck on on a trip to India, where Nepalese nomadic musicians caught my ears, and I felt the need to bring those sounds of India, both contemporary and classical, to fuse with British sounds. I can’t believe that in 3 years, we are delivering and expanded version of the festival across multi venues. The idea was to bring many forms, shades and genres of music that had common improvisational ‘on-the-fly’ attribute, fundamentally, just like the Carnatic music of South India, that I grew up with. I thank our supporters mainly for making it happen and the audiences and participants even more for making LIAF a leaf in the London festival landscape.”