A range of world class musical masters will be taking Birmingham audiences on a journey through the musical heritage of India this spring, from the mystic heights of classical traditions via Anglo-Indian classical fusion to cutting-edge contemporary Asian remixes, as part of the Mother India weekend at Town Hall and Symphony Hall from 9 April – 11 April.

Santoor maestro Pandit Shivkumar Sharma, charismatic sarod players Amaan and Ayaan Ali Khan, ?extreme cellist? Matthew Barley and former World Champion turntablist DJ Tigerstyle are amongst the artists taking part in the weekend, which will also feature freestage events including acclaimed vocalist Sanchita Pal performing at the launch of new Asian chill series Mid-day Mantra and a session by the Arun Ghosh Sextet.

Indo-jazz stars the Arun Ghosh Sextet open the Mother India weekend with an early evening live performance for the popular Rush Hour Blues series in the Symphony Hall Level 3 Bar on Friday 9 April. Entry to the session is free and offers music fans an opportunity to see and hear the future of UK crossover jazz up close and personal with a set featuring raag explorations, dub-reggae bass, tabla patterns and funk drumming.

Conceived in Calcutta, bred in Bolton, matured in Manchester and now living in London, Arun Ghosh?s musical vision and vocabulary reflects his rich geographical heritage. He is accompanied by Idris Rahman (tenor saxophone), Dr Das (bass), Aref Durvesh (tabla and dholak), Kishon Khan (piano) and Myke Wilson (drums).

?What is this fiery music and where does it come from?? Metro, review of Northern Namaste by Arun Ghosh

Pandit Shivkumar Sharma, widely regarded as a musical visionary and the preeminent maestro of Kashmiri hammered dulcimer, the santoor, will give one of only two UK performances in the majestic surroundings of the historic Town Hall on Friday 9 April, accompanied by tabla wizard Pandit Anindo Chatterjee, sitar player Rupinder Panesar and tabla player Upneet Dhadyalla.

Initiated into music from the age of five by his father the singer Pandit Uma Dutt Sharma, Shivkumar Sharma learnt and mastered the santoor – a relatively unknown hundred stringed folk instrument from the valleys of Kashmir.

Following his first performance in 1955 and debut recording in 1960, the Hindustani instrumentalist went on to a release world music milestone in 1967. A masterpiece which depicted a day in a Kashmiri village through atmospheric and timeless ragas, Call of the Valley was recorded for EMI and remains one of the best selling Indian classical music albums of all time. Now one of India?s most respected classical musicians, Shivkumar Sharma has penned music for many hit Hindi films and is the recipient of national and international awards.

?Shivkumar Sharma stands at the peak of a brilliant musical career? Rootsworld, review of Sampradya

A performance from accomplished vocalist Sanchita Pal will launch Mid-day Mantra – a new free monthly series of informal sessions in Symphony Hall?s Level 3 Bar featuring Asian artists from the UK and the Indian subcontinent. Refreshments and South Asian snacks will be available to purchase.

Other artists set to take part in future Mid-day Mantras include rising stars Soumik Datta, Faheem Mazar and Indo-Irish band Milun.

A disciple of the Bishnupur Gharana form of singing and All India Radio artist, Sanchita Pal is also an established teacher and performer of Indian Classical music and lecturer at Birmingham Conservatoire. She will perform with tabla player Sarvar Sabri and Pandit Vishwa Prakash May on tabla.

On Saturday 10 April, charismatic brothers, TV stars and sarod players Amaan and Ayaan Ali Khan will join with major collaborative force and renowned cellist Matthew Barley at the Grade I listed Town Hall for an extraordinary evening of cross-cultural experimentation. In Mother India?s second major concert, common ground between traditional Indian and Western classical music will be explored through dramatic co-ordination, improvisation and balance.

?It is a great honour for us to perform at Town Hall in a festival of this nature. Our journey together with Matthew has evolved and today, we understand each other’s minds and music”. Amaan Ali Khan

Amaan and Ayaan Ali Khan can trace their musical heritage back five generations and continue the family tradition of playing the sarod – a popular sitar-like North Indian stringed instrument – as learnt from their father, legendary musician Ustad Amjad Ali Khan.

The cellist, improviser, arranger, music animateur and artistic director Matthew Barley has collaborated with Talvin Singh, Django Bates and Amjad Ali Khan amongst many other globally recognised artists and presented BBC 2?s widely acclaimed ?Classical Star? TV programme in 2007.

The Khan-Barley trio have performed and recorded together for almost a decade in India, the UK, Australia and New Zealand, and in 2003 released the critically acclaimed live CD Strings Attached, which was recorded at concerts in London and New Delhi.

?The result is a genuine expansion in both instruments? scope – a majestic meeting of minds.? Songlines, review of Strings Attached

In a fitting close to the weekend, Mother India – 21st Century Remix (MI21) takes place at Town Hall on Sunday 11 April.

A reinterpretation of the 1957 Indian cinema classic as a 45 minute silent movie with new musical score will be performed live by DJ Tigerstyle, drummer David Shaw and cellist Matt Considine with Josh Ford as visual editor.

MI21 is a compact, powerful and sensual take on Mehboob Khan?s Hindi masterpiece – a hugely important film in South Asian cinema, known for it’s iconic imagery and powerful storyline: the common shorthand is to reference it as India’s ‘Gone with the wind’.

?A powerful and moving glimpse of a challenging, unwieldy masterpiece” The Guardian, review of MI21

Originally lasting 163 minutes, Mother India charts the story of Radha, an inspiring villager who raises her two small sons on her own after her husband (Raj Kumar) is maimed in an accident. Themes of poverty, single parenting, community stigma, lack of education or opportunities and disempowerment are all framed by a contemporary electronic and strings based score, written by turntablist DJ Tigerstyle.

Completing the evening is a conversation between audience and artists led by Indy Hunjan of producers Kalaphool which will take place in the auditorium.

?Mother India is incredible. Seeing such a strong female lead role in a film from a socialist era with all the myriad of issues, it?s easy to see its relevance in today?s society, across cultures and beliefs.? Indy Hunjan


MOTHERINDIA: Arun Ghosh Sextet
Symphony Hall Level 3 Bar
5.30pm – 7.00pm, Friday 9 April

Part of Rush Hour Blues, presented in association with Birmingham Jazz

MOTHERINDIA: Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma, Master of Santoor
Town Hall, Birmingham
7pm, Friday 9 April
£12.50 / £16.00 / £22.00

Part of the Darbar Festival 2010. Supported by sampad and The Drum

Mid-day Mantra: Sanchita Pal
Symphony Hall Level 3 Bar
1.00pm – 2.30pm, Saturday 10 April
Presented in association with sampad. The Mid-Day Mantra series is supported by Arts Council England. This performance is supported by Coutts Charitable Trust

MOTHERINDIA: Amman & Ayaan Ali Khan with Matthew Barley
Town Hall, Birmingham
7.30pm, Saturday 10 April

Supported by sampad and The Drum

MOTHERINDIA: 21st Century Remix
Town Hall, Birmingham
7.30pm, Sunday 11 April

Produced by Kala Phool. Supported by sampad and The Drum


(£2 fee per transaction on all bookings except
those made in person at the box office)

Town Hall and Symphony Hall are managed together by Performances Birmingham Limited, a registered charity. Between them, the two halls present an exciting and varied programme of over 600 concerts and events a year, designed to appeal to people of all ages and backgrounds. Over 500,000 people visit Town Hall and Symphony Hall annually, and a thriving Education and Community department reaches a further 10,000 people of all ages.

Town Hall Birmingham re-opened in October 2007 following a £35m renovation funded by Birmingham City Council (£18.3m), Heritage Lottery Fund (£13.7m), European Regional Development Fund (£3m).

Fiona Fraser
Press & PR Manager
T 0121 644 5008 (Direct)

Lyle Bignon
Assistant Press & PR Manager
T 0121 644 6028 (Direct)

Issue date: 12 February 2010