The longest day of the year ended with a night of mesmerising melody, as the fourth annual Leeds Summer Solstice Festival kept the audience enthralled from sunset to sunrise.
The event has become a spiritually soothing highlight of the city’s cultural calendar since its launch in 2012.
Organised by Leeds-based South Asian Arts UK, it was held in the beautiful former St Margaret of Antioch church in Cardigan Road, Burley, a building that now houses arts project and events space Left Bank Leeds.
The church provided the perfect backdrop for a night of uplifting music from and inspired by the subcontinent, with the building’s natural acoustics and high roof sending both voices and spirits soaring.
Internationally acclaimed artists performed a variety of Indian classical music, much of it reflecting on the sunset, night, dawn and sunrise.
Traditional Indian food and chai tea was served through the night, as the mixed audience - crossing cultural, religious and age boundaries - watched and listened from comfortable sofas or wrapped in blankets on the floor,
Among the performances were traditional Indian ‘raag’ sounds from Deepa Nair and her company, with a musical ensemble which included her daughter and husband. There were also sitar and tabla recitals from renowned performers, and a ‘bansari’ flute player who performed a call for dawn.
Organiser Keranjeet Virdee, founder and chair of South Asian Arts UK, said: “It went absolutely brilliantly with a great turnout and many people staying for the whole night.
“It’s our second time at Left Bank Leeds, but this time it has raised the bar.”
Reflecting on the success of an event held at a former Christian church, and showcasing music with heavy Muslim, Hindu and Sikh spiritual influences, she added: “It just shows you that the language of music is a universal language. It has no denomination.
“It is about the purity of the heart and that willingness to take the sound and the music you hear, and take the journey and allow yourself to connect.”