Khiyo live at Alchemy Unplugged Cafe

Sohini Alam by Rimon KhanOn Monday 18th May at 7.00pm, Khiyo return to Alchemy with a stripped-down acoustic set in the Alchemy Unplugged Music Lounge. Formed in 2007 by British-Bangladeshi vocalist Sohini Alam and composer / multi-instrumentalist Oliver Weeks, the band take an experimental approach to Bengali heritage music, presenting folk and protest songs, the music of the great Bengali composers and more modern material in fresh, dynamic new arrangements that draw on Western classical music, jazz, folk and rock as much as they do traditional Bengali music.

Their radical approach to well-known songs can come as a shock to those who grew up with the originals and has not always been popular. In 2013, the band was at the centre of controversy in Bangladesh about the music video for their version of Rabindranath Tagore’s Amar Shonar Bangla, also the national anthem of Bangladesh. Against the backdrop of political turmoil caused by the verdicts on war criminals from Bangladesh’s 1971 War of Independence, Khiyo was accused of sedition for ‘distorting’ the anthem by one of the most well known musicians in Bangladesh, with the controversy flaring further as more of the biggest names in Bangladeshi music weighed in for and against the band’s version of the song, which went viral as a result. Despite the often furious nature of the debate, it had a positive effect on the band’s reputation, making them national news in Bangladesh and raising their profile in the UK and India.

Khiyo are steadily gaining a reputation as a powerful live band and are currently promoting their debut album, which was released by Arc Music in April 2015.  Alchemy is pleased to welcome them back as part of our Unplugged Music Cafe Programme.  For the full cafe programme see here.

Alchemy Festival’s Bank Holiday with British Asian Female DJ’s

A highlight of the Alchemy Unplugged Music Cafe programme is a huge celebration of amazing British Asian Female DJs from across the UK, ready to get you pumped up for a bank holiday weekend party.  On Sunday 24 May, 1.00- 7pm, our Alchemy Unplugged strand is exploding out of the cafe and onto our Festival Terrace. The bill is looking like this:

DJ Nav1.00-2.15pm  DJ Nav

Dj Nav is not only a DJ but a vocalist, a ladies dholki sangeet artist AND a classical Sitar player.  She knows her music and offers a high energy music mix to get everyone out on the dance floor having a good time. She draws on her love and passion for songs from Bollywood, Punjab and contemporary western music.


DJ Nish

2.15-3.15pm DJ Nish

DJ Nish has been working at nusound radio for 4 years after starting out as a DJ when she was just 16 and has recently joined Calibar Roadshow.  She plays the latest Bhangra and Bollywood music on her show but enjoys more commercial UK based artists too.

DJ Missy D

3.45-5.15 DJ Missy D

Missy D is a Radio DJ, who has been around the media industry for 19 years and is well known for waking up London on the Breakfast show for “Club Asia Radio’ in London. Not only in radio she has been active on the club and music circuit in London and across the UK. Her style is unique as she loves to break norms, and currently DJ’s and hosts with her own DJ Collective known as ‘The Luv Team DJ’s’.  Check out her own online radio station which gives new talent the opportunity to be on radio.


© Luke Musharbash |

© Luke Musharbash |

 5.30-7.00pm DJ Harpz 

Based in Leeds, DJ Harpz is a multi genre DJ, playing the finest in RnB, Bhangra and Bollywood to close our party. With 8 years of experience as a Radio DJ, DJ Harpz has a strong following, not only locally but internationally. Listen to her various mixes on Soundcloud for an experience in her world.

Festival of Love 2015 – Nominate Your Change Makers

Southbank Centre’s Festival of Love 2015 takes inspiration from Nelson Mandela’s 67 years of public service and his commitment to making the world a better place for others. Nelson Mandela achieved huge change for the people of South Africa through persistent peaceful action, proving that the small acts of one person can lead to big changes. At his 90th birthday celebrations in London’s Hyde Park Mandela said: “It is time for new hands to lift the burdens. It is in your hands now.”

Inspired by this call to action, Southbank Centre is asking the question ‘How can we make the world a better place?’ The opening weekend of Festival of Love – 6-7 June 2015 – will celebrate 67 ‘Change Makers’ who are dedicated to making changes in their community and have a positive impact on the lives of others. With the help of partners across the country, Southbank Centre will choose 67 people and showcase their stories during the weekend.

We are looking for people in your community who’s actions have the potential to create change and inspire others.

–  Do you have an inspiring neighbour who is making your town a better place to live?

– A young person who is challenging injustice?

– A family member who is doing inspiring work to make peoples’ lives better?

To nominate someone you know, please click here.

( The form is very simple and will only take a few minutes!)

The closing date for nominations is Sunday 10th May 2015.

Tell us about your nominations on social media using the hashtag #MyNomination

David and Louise Kaye on their investment in musical instruments – and musicians

Philanthropists David and Louise Kaye donate money to support school-age musicians through the London Music Masters Bridge Project, but they take their commitment to music several steps further than simply writing a cheque now and they. They open their home to visiting professional musicians – as overnight guests as well as for rehearsals and performances.

They also invest in string instruments, though as David says, “Buying fine instruments has been a good investment, but as we have no intention of selling them, it defeats that purpose. We do it for our love of music and the satisfaction of supporting young people in their careers.”

Louise explains how it started: “We had been following the Jerusalem Quartet for some time, so when we found out, 10 years ago, that Amihai Grosz was looking for a new viola, we wanted to help. Having the new instrument made a real difference to his playing and his career. My husband has Parkinson’s disease and in 2013 I asked all the players who have our instruments if they would do a fundraising concert for Parkinson’s UK. They were all delighted to be able to give something back to us and there was a wonderful atmosphere at the concert. These eight musicians have become part of our extended family.”

You can hear the Jerusalem Quartet at Southbank Centre on Friday 24 April, and a chamber concert in aid of Parkinson’s UK,  by performers who have benefitted from the Kayes’ instruments, including former leader of the Berliner Philharmoniker Guy Braunstein, on Monday 22 June.

Enter the world of mobster Meyer Lansky with Crouch End Festival Chorus



Colin McIntyre, who sings in the tenor section of Crouch End Festival Chorus, writes about the choir’s first impressions of the piece they will be premiering at Southbank Centre on Monday 27 April, Roland Perrin’s Lansky: The Mob’s Money Man.

‘Welcome to the colourful world of Meyer Lansky. The news that Crouch End Festival Chorus’s next commission was from a jazz composer was received by members of the choir with a sense of nervous anticipation. We have a reputation for tackling anything that produces a sound, from rock guitarist Robert Fripp, TV and film music composer Murray Gold, Procol Harum and The Kinks, through to the early music of the Elizabethan era.

But jazz… that’s a bit different, particularly for those unfamiliar with it. Those wicked rhythms, strange chords—discords to some ears.

The piece was billed as ‘a choral jazz concert drama’. Seeking further information, we looked on the internet—and found not a single work that answered this description.

And so on to the first rehearsals. Though not exactly disasters, they quickly showed the extent of the work needed to do justice to this piece. The various voice parts quickly organised separate rehearsals among themselves, called ‘sectionals’, outside our regular weekly ones. There were a few grumbles that it didn’t really matter what notes we sang—the sound was weird and the audience wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.

As we progressed, it slowly dawned on us that, if we all hit the right notes, the sounds that emerged were not weird, but rather hauntingly beautiful.

And by that stage we had become aware that the music was not just about jazz, but included Jewish klezmer sounds from the shtetls in old Russia, and later the steamy Afro-Cuban rhythms of 1950s’ Havana. For many of us, these were further trips into unfamiliar territory. As with the jazz, the more we became familiar with it, the more we embraced it.

I hope you enjoy listening to this music as much as we enjoy singing it.’

Find out more and book tickets here.

What is purple and will make you laugh a lot?

Can you believe it’s that time of year again? That’s right – Udderbelly Festival is bringing a splash of purple to Southbank Centre as it grazes by the river for the next 15 weeks.

As ever, you can expect the best in comedy, circus, kids’ shows and more*.

We’ve put together this handy interactive guide to Udderbelly’s Pasture to give you an idea of just how much there is to see and do at the most moo-vellous festival on earth.

*By more, we mean the opportunity to play a life-size game of Jenga (amongst other things).



March has been an incredibly busy month for the Southbank Centre Gamelan Programme. In addition to numerous schools workshops and courses at the Royal Festival Hall, our touring gamelan has been busy with a number of outreach projects as part of our ‘Foster A Dragon’ scheme.

On 11 March, Southbank Gamelan Players – ensemble in residence at Southbank Centre – and dancer Ni Made Pujawati travelled to Portsmouth Guildhall to perform for 600 school pupils, students and members of the public. This was a concert to launch a new World Music Series in partnership with Portsmouth University and the Portsmouth Cultural Trust. This was followed by two participatory workshops which were a great success.

Gamelan in the News 26 March 2015 11029562_789337221143069_7125627273698086058_o

On 12th March, 34 year 7 pupils performed on the gamelan at Sedgehill School as part of Lewisham Live! The gamelan at Sedgehill School has been lying dormant for a number of years, however, with the help of Southbank Centre gamelan tutor David McKenny, Sedgehill School and the Lewisham Music Hub, it was brought to life for a number of weeks culminating in a great performance! Well done to all involved!

Gamelan is a great tool with which to promote happiness and well-being. on 23rd March, Southbank Gamelan Players took the gamelan into St. Thomas’ Hospital, London, to perform as part of a free recital series organised by BREATHE Arts Health Research and The St. Thomas’ Hospital trust. This was a performance for patients, staff and visitors to the hospital and a chance to relax to the mesmerising sounds of the gamelan over the lunch hour. We had a warm and engaged audience and the acoustics were ideal for the gamelan.


It is fast approaching Southbank Centre’s Chorus Festival, so the gamelan teamed up with Voicelab to offer young participants in Voicelab’s Easter Course a chance to learn to play the gamelan and accompany a Javanese children’s song. Well done and thanks to all 46 young people who played and sang beautifully yesterday!


There are still many opportunities coming up to get involved with the gamelan. We have two ‘Voices of Indonesia’ workshops during Chorus Festival to explore Balinese Kecak (Monkey Chant) and Javanese singing, and Family Gamelan Taster Sessions in April and May 2015.

To find out how you can get involved, please see: