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Sacred Sounds: Sikh Music Traditions and the First World War
Wed 15 November 2017, 14:00 – 16:00 GMT
Relaxed Performance (Please note this is suitable for all audiences, including dementia sufferers)
Sacred Sounds tells some of the largely forgotten stories of British India’s role in the First World War. Over one million Indian combatants and noncombatants participated in this calamitous event. Of these just under 100,000 were Sikhs – an astonishingly high number – considering they represented a tiny percentage of India’s population. Inspired by an evocative photograph of Sikh soldiers performing Gurbani Kirtan or Shabads (Sikh sacred hymns) in a French barn, this live concert showcases the music that these soldiers took with them to camp and battlefield.
The concert explores some of the many narratives of this period – the timeless and transcendent beauty of the Shabads themselves, originally composed by Guru Nanak (14691539) the founder of the Sikh faith; the power of the letters, exchanged between Sikh soldiers and their families and the vivid individual stories they tell; the forthright and often anguished voices of the women of the Punjab through fragments of folk ballads - including a mother’s lament for a departing son; the brusque recruitment songs that the British commissioned as well as new spoken word elements. Sacred Sounds is further brought to life by award-winning writer, artist and film-maker Imtiaz Dharker's powerful poetry and drawings, enhanced by Jack Lockhart's animation. A cinematic backdrop of images promises to make this a thought provoking and memorable experience.