The sitar has become an icon of Indian culture in the 20th century. Primarily a North Indian instrument, it was popularised in the West by Pandit Ravi Shankar and his student George Harrison in the 1950s. Bands like The Beatles, The Doors and The Rolling Stones used the sitar sound in the 1960s. Yet, how much do we really know about the instrument, its heritage and history, its glitterati? How it's made and maintained? Who are the great sitar makers? What are the various branches of its repertoire, and who are the modern day maestros?
This inaugural festival of the sitar will seek to answer these questions and provide an engaging programme of performances and workshops for a wider audience. Following the first International Sitar Festival in March 2019 organisers, the Sitar Music Society hopes to return annually with a widening representation of artists, styles and repertoire.
The artistic and programing direction for the festival is led by Ustad Dharambir Singh MBE who is its creative director. Dharambir Singh is one of the most prominent sitar players and Indian Music educators in England of the last 40 years. A disciple of the legendary sitar maestro Ustad Vilayat Khan, Dharambir has imbibed the sound of the rich Imdad Khani and Vilayat Khani Gharana (style), the latter of which the festival is dedicated to.
This year’s festival will showcase the work of Shakir Khan, a rising star of the new generation the son of Ustad Shahid Parvez and great-nephew of Vilayat Khan. It will also feature a number of UK-based sitarists and tabla accompanists.
The International Sitar festival will take place from 1 to 31 March 2019 across five cities in England. It includes concerts, baithaks (chamber concerts in a more intimate setting), workshops and master classes.
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The International Sitar Festival takes place across six cities in March 2019.
Birmingham - Nishkam Centre - 1, 23 March
Brighton - Brighton Ki Society - 2 March
Leeds - Seven Arts Centre & GNNSJ Gurudwara - 3, 9, 10 March
Newcastle - Newcastle University - 8 March
London - The Bhavan - 15 March
Leicester - Attenborough Arts Centre - 29, 30, 31 March
The International Sitar Festival 2019 is supported by Attenborough Arts University of Leicester, The Bhavan London, Gem Arts Newcastle, the London Sitar Academy, the Nishkam Centre Birmingham, and South Asian Arts UK Leeds.