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Southbank Centre announces new South Asian Sounds music series 




Pratibha Singh Baghel © Inner Circle Entertainment; Kiss Nuka © Sudhir Dasgupta; Ustad Nishat Khan © Nishat Khan Archive

The Southbank Centre has announced a new series, South Asian Sounds, celebrating the rich and varied musical traditions of the wider Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Afghan diaspora as well as ambitious UK-based artists and collectives working at the intersection of cultures and genres, from bhangra to jazz, Qawwali to club music.

Taking place from Thursday 7 March until Sunday 10 March 2024, South Asian Sounds is part of the Southbank Centre’s ongoing mission to reflect and support the breadth of creative communities represented in London and the UK more broadly, creating an exciting space of interplay and experimentation between tradition and innovation.

Tickets for South Asian Sounds will go on general sale Wednesday 6 December via: https://www.southbankcentre.co.uk/whats-on/festivals-series/south-asian-sounds

Commenting on the launch of the series, Southbank Centre Artistic Director Mark Ball said: “From film soundtracks to prayer, music sits at the heart of South Asian culture and South Asian Sounds promises to be an incredible celebration of the richness and diversity of its forms. We’re excited to present such internationally renowned artists representing a wide range of genres and traditions. Their appeal will reach audiences across the capital’s South Asian diaspora, who make up a fifth of our city’s residents. With projects like South Asian Sounds, the Southbank Centre is a home from home for all, in the heart of London.”

The Afghan Youth Orchestra, which aims to heal wounds and build strong bonds within Afghan society will appear alongside with some of UK’s outstanding ensembles and soloists through music, opens the long weekend of music on Thursday 7 March in the Queen Elizabeth Hall with a mix of Afghan traditional and folk songs as well as Western classical music.

On Friday 8 March in the Royal Festival, the ‘King of Bhangra’ Malkit Singh will take to the stage, showcasing his internationally successful brand of bhangra, a mix of traditional, rap, house music and more. In the Queen Elizabeth Hall, Pakistani singer Zeeshan Ali, renowned for his performances of Ghazal, Qawwali and Sufi music, appears alongside the Leo Twins, who took Pakistan by storm after their appearance on the country’s music TV series Nescafé Basement in 2016. Going late into the night, South Asian arts collective, Dialled In, which connects diasporic and native music, hosts its first event of the weekend with a club night in the Queen Elizabeth Hall Foyer. DJs include NTS regular and illustrator Anu, the genre-bending Mumbai artist Kiss Nuka and the Vedic Roots soundsystem, a product of Southhall’s historic incubation of bhangra and dub.

On Saturday 9 March, in the Royal Festival Hall, acclaimed Indian singer and Bollywood star Pratibha Singh Baghel stages a curated collection of popular old film classics, current Bollywood hits, and ghazals, accompanied by Southbank Centre Resident Orchestra Chineke! Orchestra. Continuing their takeover, Dialled In curates a line-up of South Asian classical and contemporary live performance as well as spoken word in the Queen Elizabeth Hall, diasporic and native storytelling through film in the Purcell Room and musical archive digging with DJs and selectors in the foyer. Full details will be announced in January.

The last day of the series, Sunday 10 March, will feature a packed programme: in the Royal Festival Hall, Indian classical vocalist and composer Kaushiki Chakraborty performs an afternoon of raga music while, in the evening, world-renowned Sitar maestro Ustad Nishat Khan and his equally talented brother and Surbahar maestro, Ustad Irshad Khan, come together to perform a rare duet for sitar and surbahar.


In the Queen Elizabeth Hall, there will be a showcase of Indian folk music with the award- winning artists Malini Awasthi and Anwar Khan Manganiyar. Khiyo, the innovative London-based band giving Bengali heritage music a modern, fresh sound, will perform in this double bill with the Sufi Mystic Singers in the Purcell Room.

South Asian Sounds is hosted at the Southbank Centre and presented in partnership with Asian Arts Agency, Darbar Arts Culture Heritage Trust, Dialled In, SAMA Arts Network and Ragatip. Further programming will be announced in early 2024.