Event Listings @ Pulse Connects

Performance By
Lost Traditions - A programme of music, theatre & exhibition July - October 2015

A programme of events celebrating the art and culture of the “TAWA’IF” (courtesan) tradition starting with an exhibition that explores the role of women in music from Mughal period to present day India and explores the life and culture of courtesans from the “salons to the concert stage” highlighting the significant vocal genres of “thumri” + “ghazal”.

This will be followed by a stage adaptation in English of the iconic 1907 Urdu novel UMRAO JAAN ADA and finally three outstanding concerts of THUMRI, GHAZAL AND KATHAK by renowned artists.

The Asian Music Circuit presenst one of the finest traditions of music which developed over centuries in the temples and Royal Courts of India - this was the tradition of poetry, singing and dance associated with the women who were called DEVDASI or TAWA’IF or courtesan

The late 19th early 20th Century, after a period of transformation, saw the women artists and entertainers change their profession from educated cultured poets, singers and dancers to whom elite society would send their children to be taught about etiquette and art and music into an underworld life of prostitution. This change was largely brought about by the impact of the presence in India of the English as well as conservative Indian attitudes.

The arrival in India of the British Typewriter and Gramophone Company - the future HMV - led to a substantial improvement in the lives of some of the women. They were recorded and their records were widely sold in large numbers. It was a move from the “kothas” – the salons where the women entertained men - to the concert stage.

The aim of the exhibition is to heighten awareness of the cultural heritage connecting Britain and India through visual art, music and commercial recordings. The exhibition considers the role of female musicians in the context of the Indian miniature paintings and photography, sound recordings and the life of female artists. They were the repositories of etiquette, fine art, music, dance and literature.

Centred mainly in the 19th Century court of Wajid Ali Shah, ruler of the state of AVADH whose capital was Lucknow where arts flourished under his patronage, such women were able to develop and refine their art – many as TAWA’IF or courtesans. Wajid Ali Shah was himself a poet and composer of many famous lyrics which are performed to this day. On being deposed and banished to Calcutta, this city became a cultural centre as well as the administrative capital. The women artists dispersed into other centres such as Gaya, Muzafarpur and Varanasi.

Who were the women entertainers? What was their origin and where did they come from in India? What was their art and how did they acquire that? Who were their patrons and what was their position in society? The AMC has tried to bring some insight into these issues through a series of events:

1. Exhibition

TAWA’IF - an exhibition about the life and art of the courtesans with presentations given by expert speakers opening at The Royal Geographic Society, London on Friday 4-7 September 2015. FREE ENTRY.

2. Theatre

UMRAO - a stage adaption of the famous 1907 Urdu novel UMRAO JAAN ADA by Mohammed Hadi Mirza. The play has been commissioned by the AMC and written in English. The aim is to bring a very traditional story of Lucknowi culture with its lovely poetry, music and dance using contemporary theatre techniques with live music.

Opening Wednesday 22 July - Friday 24 July 2015 | 7.30pm at The Cockpit Theatre, London followed by a performance at The Bloomsbury Theatre, London - Saturday 19 September 2015 | 7.30pm See theatre websites for booking information.

3. Recitals

Three concerts at The Cadogan Hall, Sloane Square, London

Thumri performed by Savita Devi & Ghazal by Radhika Chopra - Saturday 5 September 2015 at 7.30pm

The Mishra brothers: A rare chance to hear Rajan and Sajan Mishra exclusively performing THUMRI of the Benaras gharana - Friday 11 September 2015 at 7.30pm

Ghazal performed by Imran Khan & Qavali by Nizami Brothers - Saturday 24 October 2015 at 7.30pm

For further information, please call 0208 7429 911 or contact sadhu@amc.org.uk & matthew@amc.org.uk

To visit the Asian Music Circuit website, click HERE.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015