Preview: Poetry & Indian Classical Music Festival, Leeds

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An event aims to marry Indian classical music with Western poetry and dance is set to take place this weekend in Leeds.

The World Poetry and Indian Classical Music Festival will take place at Seven Arts cafe, Chapel Allerton, having already performed to great acclaim at the Purcell Room in London’s South Bank.

Ahmed Kaysler, 38, a librarian in Leeds and one of the festival organisers, spoke to WOW24/7 about the concept behind the festival.

Described by Ahmed as “experimental and highly subtle form of experimental art” which is “set to create new audience of classical music through seamlessly intertwining Indian classical music with other form of subtle arts, like Western poetry... to decode and interpret the mood of music.”

He went on: “What we aim to do is to intertwine Indian classical music with other forms of music and poetry from around the world, with the emphasis being on the interpreting the underlying meaning in classical music.

“So, for example, if you were to listen to some of the raggas (Indian music), when you listen to them, you cannot fail to be moved either externally or internally.

“It’s about expressing the pain of the suffered soul and the experience can be quite uplifting and transcendental.

“We want to find new audiences and popularise Indian classical music.”

The two-day festival will fuse ostensibly divergent pieces of art, from Schubert and the poetry of Sylvia Plath to Indian maestros like Chandra Chakraborty, who was considered a child prodigy in India.

It is being presented by Saudha, Society of Poetry and Indian Music and will put Indian classical music featuring Saudha’s hypnotic concerts of classical (Kheyal) and semi-classical music (Thumri, Dadra, Ghazal) blending haunting verses of traditional world poetry (Hafiz, Tagore, Khyam, Keats, Lorca, Ghalib, Neruda etc) and spectacular Kathak dance to communicate and visualize the images of music.

Ahmed added: “We are in a campaign of creating new audience of classical music mainly Indian but Western in some extent, too. Indian classical music does have a therapeutic impact on the human mind apart from the its beauty as a subtle art form.

“Through this campaign we worked with leading classical musicians in order to present the purity of the art form and because ordinary audience takes classical music as an obscure form of art, we seamlessly intertwined classical music with haunting verses of poetry around the world of many different languages so that it can decode the mood of the music at least, it can at least put some images for audience to focus on when different ragas are being played through instruments or sung by vocalists.

“We have achieved a lot in terms of connecting new audience in the West.

“Once they come to the concert they ask when the next one is going to happen.

“The main admirers of these shows are the audience from Western background and many Western audience even know more about Indian classical music that Asian probably because of Ravi Shankar.

“The vision of those performance is purely to produce quality form of art through experiments and fusion without compromising with the purity as well as through engaging ordinary audience.

“I am a poet, I am a big fan of classical music both Western and Indian. I read about serious music, too.

“People will firstly enjoy the magic of an intertwined art form and get rid of wearies of repetitive reproduction of the same things.

“In the future we would like to experiment with all relevant serious art forms engaging leading musicians and audiences and see us performing regularly in big venues like the Royal Albert Hall

The festival was counted as one of the top-ten events in Leeds last year and will start at 6pm each day and finish at 9pm. For more information, visit the website: www.sevenleeds.co.uk