Kuljit Bhamra, an influential British Asian musician, has won many musical awards and recorded over two thousand songs to date. A self-taught composer, producer and tabla player, he is credited with spearheading the Bhangra movement in this country. Kuljit has worked on film scores for over fifteen years, including Bhaji on the Beach, Bend it like Beckham, Alexander the Great, The Guru, A Little Princess, Wings of a Dove, The Four Feathers, Brick Lane and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. In 2002, he joined forces with Andrew Lloyd Webber for the West End musical Bombay Dreams and he spent the next two years appearing as an on-stage percussionist. He also acted as Indian Music Consultant and wrote music for the musical adaptation of The Far Pavilions, and in 2005 re-worked the Bee Gee’s popular seventies hit Staying Alive, which became the first instrumental to top the Sunrise Radio people’s chart.
spnm’s association with Kuljit Bhamra will broaden the scope of the music that the organisation produces and promotes. During a career that has spanned over 30 years, Kuljit has crossed numerous genres and musical traditions and will take spnm’s pioneering work to new audiences placing composers at the heart of the creative process. Whilst collaborations between musicians of different cultures are becoming more common, composers from the Western tradition are rarely able to take part in these collaborations due to the barriers that exist between different forms of musical communication. During Kuljit Bhamra’s artistic directorship composers will, have the opportunity to find innovative ways to develop their practices with musicians from many different traditions, working alongside tabla players to develop a universal tabla notation system as well as exploring the possibilities of composing ragas for orchestra.
Two new exciting projects will particularly give spnm composers an unprecedented insight into collaborating with improvising South Asian musicians, especially those from non-notational and non-Western backgrounds. Bhangra Latina will look at fusing two musical genres and the creation of a Bhangra Latina band which will also feature pianist Alex Wilson. Folk From Here will feature Northumbrian pipes artist Kathryn Tickell and an eclectic mix of instruments such as the sitar, fiddle and tabla.
Kuljit Bhamra, newly appointed Artistic Director of spnm, writes:
“One of my missions during the spnm season is to de-mystify music from
non-western traditions. Through a programme of composer workshops and
performances, I intend to create opportunities and dialogues whereby
performers and composers work together to break down such glass walls, and
for this process to open similar doors to other cultures and music.”
Jenny Goodwin, Chair of spnm, says:
“spnm is thrilled to welcome Kuljit Bhamra as Artistic Director for 2008-9. This is a particularly important collaboration for spnm because it provides the opportunity to broaden the types of music with which we are engaged and it will help us reach new audiences. It will also open up a whole new world of opportunities for our composers. Kuljit is particularly keen to explore how we can break down the boundaries between improvising musicians, who don’t necessarily read music, and composers who do. Such relationships provide huge creative potential and we look forward to seeing the results.”