Indian classical superstars visit Royal Birmingham Conservatoire

Indian classical superstars visit Royal Birmingham Conservatoire

Ties between British and Indian musicians were boosted this week with a visit by four classical music superstars to the UK’s Royal Birmingham Conservatoire.

An assembled audience of staff, students, diplomats, MPs and business leaders, including the Indian Consul General of India Dr Shashank Vikram and Preet Kaur Gill MP, were present at the world-renowned centre of music, based at Birmingham City University.

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Tabla supremo Zakir Hussain said, ‘music has the power to change your life in a way you couldn’t even imagine’. He was joined by acclaimed singer-composer Shankar Mahadevan, leading flautist Rakesh Chaurasia, and legendary keyboardist and producer Louiz Banks.

Zakir Hussain and his late father, Ustad Alla Rakha, were largely responsible for popularising the tabla with Western audiences throughout the 1970s and 1980s. He had accompanied the late sitar maestro Ravi Shankar in the US at 11 years old.

Organised by BCU India and West Midlands India Partnership, the event saw the artists, known to millions of fans in their home country and worldwide, share advice and stories with a captivated audience in the Conservatoire’s Bradshaw Hall.

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Musical links between the UK and India were explored between the VIPs and senior leaders of the University, and the artists posed for photos with senior music students on stage after the event.

Dr Shirley Thompson, Interim Principal of Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, said, “We were thrilled to welcome Zakir, Shankar, Rakesh, Louiz and guests, share in their passion, joy and enthusiasm for music with students, staff, partners, and supporters, and present some of the outstanding talent on offer at the Conservatoire to all.

“International students play an incredibly important part in RBC and across BCU, and our school and University and strengthening connections with artists and creative partners from across the world helps us to create a truly diverse community with many musical cultures at its heart.”

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Shyam Naban, Director of the West Midlands India Partnership, part of the team who organised the visit, said “We’re delighted to support the development of cultural and artistic links between the West Midlands region and India through interactions with global Indian maestros like Ustad Zakir Hussain, Padmashri Shankar Mahadevan, Jazz King Louis Banks and Rakesh Chaurasia. We will continue to connect our board members with esteemed organisations in India as a part of our strategy to enhance relations as we celebrate the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games and ‘India at 75’ this year.

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