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More Indian music for Londoners

Rare Indian musical instruments will be exhibited in London from Monday at the Horniman Museum in southeast London. The nine-month long display is the biggest ever show.

india Updated: Feb 04, 2008 16:03 IST
HS Rao
HS Rao

Londoners, so far familiar with Bhangra pop, will now get a taste of India's rich and diverse musical heritage with an exhibition of over 300 exquisite and rare Indian musical instruments and performances by popular artistes from Monday.

Aptly titled 'Utsavam: Music from India', the nine-month long display at the Horniman Museum in southeast London is the biggest ever show of its kind.

To bring the instruments to life, there are videos and sound recordings collected during five years of field trips undertaken by the co-curators Margaret Birley and Rolf Killius in co-operation with the British Library's sound archive.

"One of the purposes of the research project is to document disappearing music and instruments that are under threat at a time of rapid change in India," Birley told reporters.

The event organised by Nitin Sawhney, Indian music master, with the help of London-based Asian Dub Foundation will feature bout 20 associated concerts and musical events, with performances by the Indian-born Baluji Shrivastav (sitar) and Soumik Datta (sarod) and Gurdain Rayatt (tabla).

Horniman museum was founded in 1901 by Frederick Horniman, whose tea company had its roots in India. Horniman was a collector of ethnographic, anthropolitical and cultural artefacts, which he donated to the museum.

Among his earliest gifts were instruments from India that he picked up on two trips in 1894 and in 1896.

They include an early sitar, a flute from Rajasthan and some drums, all of which are on show in the exhibition.