On June 1st, 2018, a very exciting evening took place for the first time - The SOAS Radio Showcase!
SOAS Radio is an online radio station based at the SOAS University of London, committed to creating great radio and a deeper understanding and appreciation of music, academic issues, ideas and cultures across the world. In our efforts to give a platform of up-and-coming and established musicians playing traditional music from around the world St. Mary’s Music Hall seemed like the ideal venue, and we were looking forward to this collaboration.
After a hectic but successful soundcheck we could ease into the beautiful early summer evening, enjoy a Halloumi wrap in the gentle breeze outside before settling into the welcoming and stunning church that is St. Mary’s Music Hall.
The night was kicked off with newly formed duo Stornelli, presenting folk music from Tuscany and Apulia. In the interview, singer and flautist Deianira Iozzi revealed how a stornello is a genre of music that originated in Tuscany centuries ago and could be compared to a modern day rap battle between two poets. Deianira and guitarist Henry Ashworth skillfully moved between ballads of longing and sadness to the faster and more dynamic stornelli.
Second, Indian classical singer Budhaditya Bhattacharyya performed a 30min set of a raga, together with his ensemble consisting of tabla player Gurdain Singh Rayatt, harmonium player Rekesh Chauhan and tānpurā player Anwesha Panigrahi. A rare treat as none of the musicians had ever played in a church before!
The third ensemble of the night was headed by yangzhin (Chinese hammered dulcimer) player Reylon Yount. Reylon performed an ambitious set with a large and talented group of his friends, including singer Yijia Tu and poet Deshawn McKinney. Reylon described his search for expressing his Chinese-American identity within his music, having been trained in the Chinese Classical tradition. The ambitious set culminated in a cover of Swedish-American pop artist Mapei’s “Don’t Wait”.
To finish off the evening with a spectacular last set, we were lucky to have Oxford Maqam who released their successful album “The Wax Cylinder Recordings” last year and gave us a beautiful rendition from Egypt’s early recording era performing songs rarely heard since the early 20th century. Their interpretations gave us a little window to the past of what musical theatre and cafe music during this time may have sounded like - with themes of love, Egyptian independence and satire.
A full success of a night, we thank everyone for coming, the St Mary’s Music Hall team for providing such a beautiful space and the SOAS Radio presenters for guiding us through the night with music and interviews. Can’t wait for the next one!