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Ghazal, Thumri, and Kheyal Festival

Organisers aim to smash stereotypes as Ghazal, Thumri, and Kheyal Festival returns to Merton

An Indian classical music festival aiming to change perceptions of the genre returns to Merton for the third year tonight.

The Ghazal, Thumri, and Kheyal Festival, which begins at 7.30pm tonight, is organised by Saudha, the Society for Poetry and Indian Music as part of its campaign to create a new audience for the cultural performance art.

The three-day event will host around 30 performers and aims to offer a ‘hypnotic experience’ through blending music, dance and poetry.

An intellectual discussion about the challenges of promoting Indian classic music to western audiences will also be held on Sunday.

Saudha and Festival Director Ahmed Kaysher said: “There is increasing demand from local Londoners, Merton and neighbouring councils, we do these festivals all over the country but here is the most popular.

“We’ve had people asking after it 3-4 months in advance.

“For me, I find attracting white British rather than British Asian audiences easier.”

Mr Taysher said around two thirds of society’s performances are made up of a white British audience.

Soloist Mehboob Nadeem, violinist Balu Raghuraman and cellist Anup Kumar Biswas feature in the line-up, alongside the society’s very-own artistic director Chandra Chakraborty who will take to the stage on Saturday as one of the vocal performers.

Ms Chakraborty has been described as the most sought after Hindustani vocalist in the UK by BBC Radio.

Merton’s Community and Culture Councillor Nick Draper said: “There is a fantastic line-up of globally-renowned performers and we hope to see new audiences enjoying their first taste of Indian classical music.”

The collection of performances will take place at Merton Arts Space and Raynes Park Library.

Tickets and more information are available at: http://www.saudha.org/news-events.php

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