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Press Release |  14 Feb 2018 16:00 |  By RnMTeam

Legendary Carnatic singer Aruna Sairam and sarod virtuoso Soumik Datta to collaborate

MUMBAI: In what is billed as a rare performance, one of the most charismatic and prominent Carnatic vocalists and Padma Shri awardee Aruna Sairam will collaborate with British sarod virtuoso Soumik Datta for Back to the Blues in London on 15 March.

The performance at St John’s Smith Square will explore the common language between Carnatic music, Hindustani classical music and contemporary jazz and will also feature London-based percussionist Pirashanna Thevarajah on kanjira and mridangam; Cormac Byrne – who has worked with Datta on King of Ghosts – on Irish percussion and Al MacSween on piano.

Leading on his signature instrument, the sarod (19 stringed fretless lute), Soumik will weave an intriguing, global soundscape around Aruna’s majestic voice to evoke a haunting and sensory world in the show presented by the Bagri Foundation, a charity dedicated to promoting the arts of Asia and cultural exchange.

Tickets for the 15 March show in London are available at

Aruna, considered to be one of the greatest classical music voices of India, is famous for her collaborations with leading musicians such as Ustad Zakir Hussain; Dominique Vellard of France (classical liturgical, medieval, and Gregorian chants); Noureddine Tahiri of Morocco (Arabo-Andalusian music); mandolin virtuoso U. Srinivas and Bollywood singer Shankar Mahadevan.

“There is an immediacy of emotion that happens in Indian classical music, because this music is spontaneously created, on stage, during the performance,” says Aruna, who was the first South Indian classical vocalist invited by The BBC Proms to perform at the Royal Albert Hall in 2011 in the Proms’ 117-year history.

“At the same time, there is a strong structural element to Carnatic music through the legacy of brilliant compositions created by our great composers. Back to the Blues, hosted by the Bagri Foundation, is a concert where I would be able to explore the improvisational aspect with the colours of jazz and North Indian music in collaboration with Soumik Datta, as well as present the compositions inherent to the music, making it accessible to audiences beyond regional and cultural contexts. We will be joined by a team of eminent musicians from the UK and Ireland,” she adds.

Soumik, who recently had King of Ghosts – a reimagined, new score inspired by the Oscar-winning director Satyajit Ray’s cult film Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne – released as an independent soundtrack by Globe Music, is understandably excited about the upcoming collaboration.

“At the heart of Indian classical music is the element of improvisation,” says Soumik. He adds, “It marks your individuality, your unique voice. This connects it naturally and fundamentally with jazz. As a composer and sarod player, Back to the Blues gives me the opportunity to break the barriers between Hindustani classical and Carnatic traditions by seeing them through the lens of jazz. Together with Aruna Sairam and a team of riveting soloists from UK and Ireland, I hope to compose a united music connecting all human identities through sound.”

Soumik has previously collaborated with musicians like Nitin Sawhney, Anoushka Shankar, Joss Stone, Akram Khan, Beyoncé, Jay-Z, Talvin Singh, Manu Delago, Bernhard Schimpelsberger and Shankar Mahadevan to name a few.