London’s packed Bangla music festival turns out a hit with western audiences

Bangla music perfomance by Chiranjib Chakraborty

Bangla music perfomance by Chiranjib Chakraborty - Credit: Saudha Society of Poetry and Indian Music

The three-day Bangla Music Festival staged across London has been a sell-out with non-Bengali audiences. So organisers are now planning bigger events next year.

Bangla singer Farzana Sifat

Bangla singer Farzana Sifat - Credit: Saudha Society of Poetry and Indian Music

The optimism follows packed six-hour long performances at a stretch at the finale which was held at east London’s Rich Mix centre in Bethnal Green.

The festival, run by Saudha Society of Poetry and Indian Music, opened at Keates House in Hampstead before switching to the East End.

“I have received a big pile of feedback from a non-Bengali audience,” the society’s director Ahmed Kaysher said.

“The success I measure by the engagement of non-Bengali audiences—it has inspired us to do this festival on an even-larger scale in future.”


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Artists were from pure classical and semi-classical backgrounds. Dr Imtiaz Ahmed spoke at the session held at Brick Lane’s Kobi Nazrul Centre on the history of Bangla music and its influence in the West, which was followed by performances by singer Farzana Sifat and a charyapad recital by Jahangir Rana and Erik Schelander.

In the audience for the finale at Rich Mix was Melanie Smith, from Stepney Green, who described the whole six hours as “moments of bliss”.

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She added: “Language wasn’t a barrier. I saw the profound artistry of a-thousand years’ heritage of this music.”

The festival also included songs performed by British-born Bangladeshi children such as Tanisha Chowdhury, Joy Nafees, Anonna Chowdhury, Anvita Gupta, Arpita Chowdhury, Purba Audhora and Urbi Modhura.

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