M3 Features

Ghazalaw at the 2015 International Kolkata Book Fair

February 10, 2015

The inauguration of the 39th International Book Fair saw a unique concert – songs performed by the Indian-Welsh group, Ghazalaw. Ghazalaw celebrates the affinity between Indian ghazal and the Welsh folk tradition. Mumbai singer Tauseef Akhtar and Welsh singer-songwriter Gwyneth Glyn weave the love poetry of their two ancient traditions to the accompaniment of harp, tabla, guitar and harmonium, creating in the process mellifluous renderings of Welsh-Indian (ghazal) fusion music.

In 2012, with support from Wales Arts International, the two artistes came together to explore their musical affinity. Welsh harpist Georgia Ruth joined Akhtar and Glyn to work on the music of the group, along with table player Ashih Jha, violinist Manas Kumar and guitarist Sanjay Das. Glyn herself plays the acoustic guitar and Tauseef Akhtar, the harmonium, like any traditional ghazal singer.

According to Tauseef, there exists a strong historic and linguistic link between Welsh and Urdu, the language of the ghazal, as both evolved from Sanskrit. Also, some of the scales in Welsh folk music are similar to the ones used in ghazals. The fusion music of Ghazalaw has been appreciated by the stalwarts of ghazal as well. Again, according to Tauseef, when the group did their first show in Cardiff, the capital of Wales, the great Ghulam Ali commended them and insisted on their calling him when they next did a concert like this.
Ghazalaw has performed in Mumbai and Delhi, and has featured at the Indiearth Exchange in Chennai. Their latest concert in India took place on January 31 at the Ghazal Bahaar Festival in Mumbai.

Not only was the performance at the International Kolkata Book Fair hugely appreciated by the sizable crowd, the performers themselves described their experience as an ‘overwhelming experience’ on their Facebook page.


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