Alchemy 2017 concludes in London
Alchemy 2017, the eighth edition of the multi-arts festival presented by Southbank Centre, has finally concluded in the United Kingdom. The largest showcase of South Asian culture in the UK, this year’s edition (held from May 19 till May 29) featured works from seven countries: India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and like past years, the 2017 edition got plenty of things right.
As reported earlier, music group Khumariyaan took the stage on May 20, presented by Funoon London, and won over everybody in the crowd with their folk-rock instrumentals and interactive presence. Speaking after the performance, guitarist Sparlay Rawail noted, “We couldn’t have asked for a better UK debut. The love and excitement with which we were received by the audience was wonderful. And their open-mindedness in coming to see us in such numbers – not just Pashtuns but people from so many different backgrounds – we salute that. It was every musician’s dream.”
Other than Khumariyaan, Bilal Khan, the singer-songwriter who is finding a diffferent kind of following since appearing in TV drama serial, Sammi, also took the stage as part of Alchemy 2017 and played two sets at the Southbank Centre. Having made his mark last year when he played the inaugural Funoon Salon, Khan’s inclusion in this line-up gives us hope that more independent artists will get a space to shine in the future.
The performance of Shaukat Dholiya, a group of dhol players who were scheduled to take the stage was cancelled, Sufi queen Abida Parveen more than made up for it and had people mesmerized with her strong performance. Backed by Rafi Peer Mystic Music Sufi Festival, it was a one-night only set where the verses of Amir Khusrau came alive.
Literary superstars also made their presence felt as the Karachi Literature Festival that made its UK debut in partnership with Southbank Centre. Commemorating 70th anniversary of Pakistan, the event counted in attendance several notable names from the world of literature. Ameena Saiyid, co-founder of KLF, while reflecting on the festival’s UK debut said on the matter: “It is not possible to bring the world to Pakistan to savour our literature and cultural creativity but it is possible to take it to the world. The cultural crossroad that is the great city of London is the perfect place to bring together our authors, both from within Pakistan and the Pakistani diaspora, to celebrate the vigour and originality of their writings in the 70th year of Pakistan’s independence.”