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Utsavam - Music from India

Utsavam - Music from India explored the cultural, musical and linguistic diversity of a land that is home to a sixth of the world’s population.

Sound, film footage, musical instruments and objects including a spectacular Kathakali dance costume took visitors on a journey to village India, where music traditions are under threat at a time of rapid change in the subcontinent.

The exhibition offered encounters with the temple musicians of rural Kerala, instrument makers of the Punjab, musician-farmers of the Sora groups of Orissa and Andhra Pradesh, fishing communities in Assam and artisans from the mountains of Arunachal Pradesh on the border with China. Visitors were also invited to marvel at stunning classical and traditional instruments from across the country.

Utsavam - Music from India was the culmination of five years of research in India by Horniman curators in collaboration with the British Library Sound Archive.

Pritam Singh

To accompany Utsavam, the Horniman invited Pritam Singh, a Punjab-based maker of the sarangi, a north Indian bowed stringed instrument, to demonstrate his craft of instrument making in Gallery Square.

Examples of his work and a recreation of his workshop were displayed in the Utsavam exhibition.

His visit was co-sponsored by the ASHT, the Anglo-Sikh Heritage Trail.

Utsavam's Legacy

Sound recordings and videos of music-making were collected during the project and were key elements in the exhibition, illustrating the music and the contrasting geographical, environmental and cultural contexts for music making.

As a legacy of the project recordings have been made available on the British Library Sound Archive website.