The LIAF - A Diverse and Cultural Mix of Talent

LIAF Review by Claire Davidge, Images by Chris Christoforou

Please note: The author's views are entirely his or her own and may not reflect the views of

The LIAF - A Diverse and Cultural Mix of Talent


Pictured above: Dr Balamuralikrishna performing at LIAF.

Melodic Sounds that Make You Melt into Dreamland

I never before been to experience or witness Classical Indian Music live on stage. Going to see musicians play in Redbridge Town Hall in Illford was a beautiful and memorizing experience and I found unexpected joy in music that was sometimes serious and dramatic but also celebratory and happy. The music is based on melody and rhythm, not on harmony, counterpoint and chords like basic Western music and is known as the Raga Sangeet. This can be traced back nearly two thousand years ago to its origin in the Vedic hymns of the Hindu temples. Watching the shows made me feel spiritual and I can understand why others use it to take a journey towards their inner consciousness.

LIAF - Ozgen and Cloak LIAF - Asaf Sirkis on the drums LIAF - Pushkala Gopal perform a rendition of the Bharatanatyam

Pictured from left to right: Turkish Cypriot Ozgen performing a Romany and Oriental dance solo; Legendary Israeli drummer Asaf Sirkis; Pushkala Gopal Dance Group with their pulsating rendition of the Bharatanatyam – the classical dance of Tamil Nadu.

A Tune That Told a Story - Shyamala & Hariharan

I went to the second day of the festival and the first show I saw was Shyamala & Hariharan, two teenage South Indian vocalists who have been practicing their music since the age of 7 and 4. Previously they had met in California and had been chosen for the festival along with violinist, Kiruthika Nadarajah and P. Kirupakanan on the Mridangam. Together they performed a specially commissioned piece in three parts called a ‘Ragam Tanam Pallavi.’ The first part explores the Raga without any talam (beat.) While the next part the Tanam is a type of improvisation with rhythmic syllables, and lastly the Pallavi is a single thematic line set to a particular ragam and talem and is performed with improvisation. Altogether I found the music hypnotizing and thoughtful, it seemed to be about love or a conflicting battle of emotions between two people.

Prakash Sontakke and his Traveling Slide Guitar

The second musician I saw was Prakash Sontakke, well known for his atmospheric pieces, bluesy chords jazz tinged notes and the infamous Sliding guitar, he was joined by Hanif Khan on the tabla, they had both only met the day before. He performed an Indian Classical set mixed with music forms of melodies that were well suited to Raaga music. I felt like the most important part of the performance was his Slide Guitar, he used it to it’s full potential achieving the microtones and the harmonic typically used within Classical Indian music. The twinkling and magical music was rather urgent throughout the piece, continuously gaining speed but then slowly fading out toward the end.

Rabindranjali Ballet perform at LIAF

Pictured above: Rabindranjali Ballet at LIAF.

An Event Not Be Missed

The LIAF is a new event organized by Dhruv Arts bringing together the diverse cultures in East London and providing a platform for complimentary cultures and art forms. I enjoyed and was intrigued by my experience at LIAF, if this event is on again next year, I would strongly encourage others to experience this broad range of musical genres. I saw Classical Indian Carnatic music, but the festival also includes other styles like Folk, Jazz and Contemporary from all parts of the world including the USA, Mexico, Serbia and Turkey.


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