Sacred Sounds Concert

Sacred Sounds: Sikh Music Traditions and the First World War


Wednesday 15 November
2pm – 4pm
Free
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Sacred Sounds tells some of the largely forgotten stories of British India’s role in the First World War. Over one million Indian combatants and non-combatants participated in this calamitous event. Of these just under 100,000 were Sikhs – an astonishingly high number – considering they represented a tiny percentage of India’s population.

Inspired by an evocative photograph of Sikh soldiers performing Gurbani Kirtan or Shabads (Sikh sacred hymns) in a French barn, this live concert showcases the music that these soldiers took with them to camp and battlefield.

The concert explores some of the many narratives of this period – the timeless and transcendent beauty of the Shabads themselves, originally composed by Guru Nanak (1469-1539) the founder of the Sikh faith; the power of the letters, exchanged between Sikh soldiers and their families and the vivid individual stories they tell; the forthright and often anguished voices of the women of the Punjab through fragments of folk ballads – including a mother’s lament for a departing son; the brusque recruitment songs that the British commissioned as well as new spoken word elements.


Sacred Sounds is further brought to life by award-winning writer, artist and film-maker Imtiaz Dharker’s powerful poetry and drawings, enhanced by Jack Lockhart’s animation. A cinematic backdrop of images promises to make this a thought provoking and memorable experience.

Relaxed Performance (Please note this is suitable for all audiences, including dementia sufferers)