Two years ago I attended my first ALCHEMY festival, a weekend of pure music and art. Truth be told, I only went because friends Engine-Earz, Shaa’ir n Func, Bandish Projekt, Arun Ghosh and a few others were performing! A magnificent experience!
This year, Alchemy is back at the Southbank Centre and ready to celebrate the finest in music, film, dance, literature and more inspired and influenced by the South Asian countries. There are many of the festival favourites and some fantastic first timers! Watch as the cultural connections between India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and UK weave into each other on a tapestry of talent.
Below, I have selected my best picks of the ten day festival giving you an experience
Asian Dub Foundation are joined by Nathan ‘flutebox’ Lee, Romany singer Kerieva, Chinese string players Chi 2, MC Skrien and the Ministry of Dhol. Featuring Ar8 Collexion and Rita Morar. With an after party show from Shiva Soundsystem’s NERM
A triple bill featuring traditional and contemporary vocal music from outstanding artists, beatboxer Shlomo, kathak dancer Gauri Sharma Tripathi and their Urban Vani project, alongside vocalist Ranjana Ghatak, composer Jesse Bannister, beatboxer Jason Singh with young Voicelab singers and students from Morpeth School, Tower Hamlets.
Humble The Poet is a Toronto-bred MC and spoken word artist whose work embodies the changing nature and resilience of one of the world’s most diverse cities. From his appearance to the myriad of topics and taboos addressed in his work, he introduces a critical viewpoint to Hip Hop’s landscape.
Two musicians journey through the chaos of Kolkata into the paddy fields of Bangladesh. Encountering rickshaw wallahs and mad fruit vendors, farmers and washerwomen, they are led into an epic adventure of sound.
Global YouTube and jazz chart-topping sensation Sachal Jazz Ensemble present its world premiere live performance.
Combining western instruments with sitar, sarod, tabla and dholak, the Lahore-based, veteran Pakistani ensemble breathes new life into well-known Bossa Nova and Jazz Standards including Dave Brubeck’s Take Five, which he said was ‘the most interesting and different recording of Take Five that I’ve heard.’
The Indian-Western supergroup led by visionary guitar virtuoso Simon Thacker performs world premieres.
The group performs major commissions by legendary American pioneer Terry Riley, British intercultural master Nigel Osborne, India’s greatest composer Shirish Korde and Simon Thacker. This is one of the most ambitious, wide ranging, UK-based Indian-Western programmes of recent years.
Following last year’s sell-out concert, Indian folk-rock star Raghu Dixit and band return to Alchemy for the next exciting stage of their new collaboration with members of Britain’s renowned folk big-band Bellowhead and choreographer Gauri Sharma Tripathi.
Iconoclastic clarinettist Arun Ghosh presents radical contemporary arrangements of selected Tagore material, and pays homage to the revolutionary spirit of Nazrul, with his unique interpretations of the Rebel Poet’s ‘mass music’.
A joyous celebration of South Asian dance and theatre, including Kathak, Bharatanatyam and Bollywood dance.
Features the Odissi Ensemble, Sujata Banerjee Dance Company, the Bhavan Centre, students from the Centre for Advanced Training for South Asian and Contemporary Dance – Bharatanatyam and a new piece created by Shobana Jeyasingh for Mulberry School.
Southbank Centre has taken on the exciting challenge of producing its very own Bollywood film in one week using the site as a film set. Working with dancers, actors, writers and musicians across London, poet and playwright Nikesh Shukla creates a new script celebrating the very best of Bollywood cinema directed by Aneil Karia and choreographed by actor and choreographer Shobna Gulati.