One of Britain's leading Hindustani and Carnatic music festivals will honour the memory of legendary sitar maestro Ravi Shankar this year.
The Darbar Festival at the Southbank Centre, on the banks of the Thames in London, will kick-start today for a weekend of Indian classical music. This year also marks a special focus on female musicians from the country, some of whom will be performing in London for the first time.
"Here in the UK we can programme the festival free from the discrimination that most musicians face because of politics, caste, sex and religion back in India. We continue to expose brilliant new musicians to UK audiences," said Sandeep Virdee, artistic director of the Darbar Festival.
Some of the highlights from this year's festival include one of India's greatest tabla maestros Yogesh Samsi, sitar artist Pandit Budhaditya Mukherjee, and eminent singer in the South Indian devotional Carnatic tradition Sudha Ragunathan.
"This year the festival focuses on Indian women musicians, many of whom have been overshadowed by their male counterparts and seldom get the acclaim they deserve. These pioneering ladies are breaking the mould and challenging the status quo as they seek to pursue careers as independent female musicians. The festival is leading the way to provide a platform for women in Indian classical music," the festival programme explains.
The female talent taking to the Darbar stage will include Anupama Bhagwat, one of India's leading sitar maestros; Manjusha Kulkarni-Patil, a sought after virtuoso of the Agra and Gwalior Gharanas; and Jayanthi Kumaresh, prized Saraswati veena player.
The music will be punctuated by talks that focus on the role of women in the Indian classical music tradition as part of the festival, which runs until Sunday.