Sarod maestro Soumik Datta is bringing together some of the UK’s best South Asian musicians in a day-long festival delightfully titled the Summer Baaja, as part of the Horniman Gardens’ Indian Summer season.
Featured are brilliant flautist and music producer Shammi Pithia, whose band Flux we wrote about here; the ever-experimental percussionist Bernhard Schimpelsberger; violinist Preetha Narayanan; and UK-Bangladeshi band Khiyo fronted by the remarkable vocals of Sohini Alam – alongside a host of other musicians, dancers and storytellers.
There’s something about experiencing a live musical performance outdoors – with the sun at your back, a breeze in the face, or a raindrop or two in your drink, and I can’t quite help visions of Tansen in a Mughal courtyard. Soumik has said of the event: “The Horniman with its sprawling gardens is a curator’s dream. Celebrating its magnificent outdoor spaces, I wanted to recreate the atmosphere of vibrant Indian festivals complete with nomad bands and folk musicians playing on street corners and city gardens.”
The afternoon programme includes a performance through the gardens of the story of the Rose and the Bulbul, a Rhythm Battle between the tabla, saxophone and contemporary and Carnatic percussion, and a two hour jam finale with Soumik Datta and his array of guests.
The day aims to celebrate the timelessness and enduring appeal of South Asian music, as it transcends generations and geography. Soumik explains the thinking behind the name: “The word ‘baaja’ in Hindi roughly translates as ‘instrument’ or group of instruments. For me an instrument carries with it the DNA of where it has come from. In its sound, it carries the identity of its region. In its resonance lives its many stories. Responding to the incredible collection of instruments at the Horniman, I wanted to celebrate ancient South Asian instruments such as the sarod, veena, bansuri and kanjira that are now being played by young, dynamic second generation maestros in the UK with an urgency that keeps this music relevant and alive”.
It sounds totally thought-provoking and lovely and exciting – did we mention entry is free?
When: Sunday 23 July 2017, 12 – 9pm
Where: Horniman Museum & Gardens, 100 London Road, Forest Hill, London SE23 3PQ
More info: Horniman Museum & Gardens
By Seema Khan.
Posted on 21 July 2017