Irish and Indian music fusion

3 minutes read
Posted 7 February, 2024
India Meets Ireland image 1 resized

India Meets Ireland is a performance that showcases the colourful contrast and musical magic created by these two cultures through their ragas and reels. The two father-daughter duos will take the stage at Arrowtown this weekend, to show that there’s plenty of common ground between the two traditional music genres.

Basant Madhur, who has won numerous awards in India and accompanied some international legends, and his daughter Sargam Madhur, who is part of the Whau Community Orchestra, will play tablas and sitars in the Northern Indian style. They come from a renowned musical family that established New Zealand’s premier Indian music school in Blockhouse Bay, Auckland, teaching over 500 students to date.

Alongside them, Jon Sanders and his daughter Jenny Os, who herald from Dingle, co Kerry, Ireland, will play bouzouki, guitar and vocals to blend the different music. They’ll perform songs from the Irish west coast with contemporary compositions in a unique way. Sanders has toured as a musician over the past 25 years, performing with bands and solo, while Os grew up surrounded by musical culture, including traditional and modern Irish music. Sanders and Basant first met around 2008 through a mutual friend, before deciding to join forces.

“We first met in 2008 or 2009 from a mutual friend who was a Canadian sitar player,” Saunders says. “He was kind of doing new age, blending some beats with the sitar. There was a whole scene out there that has a bit of a beat behind it, but there’s traditional instruments going on. So we played as a trio a couple of times, and then Prasadan went back to Canada and he’s still there. Myself and Basant, we kind of carry the thing on every year when I come over – I bi-locate between Europe when it’s summer and here when it's summer.”

The unique mix means that the show provides some traditional and contemporary Irish music, as well as Indian-style music. It will be in two halves, with a format for each, which showcases either Indian or Irish music before blending them into a fusion of rhythm and melody.

“There’s quite a few similarities between Irish traditional and Indian. Because I lived in West Kerry in Ireland for a long, long time and Jenny is born and bred there, we probably play a purer source of Irish music than the world population knows. On the other side with Basant and Sargam, they come from the classical Indian music tradition. So there’s a nice blend there.”

Sanders also has a love of contemporary music and has described his taste as music of the world – the bands that he has played in have always covered different places incluing African, Arabic, Jazz, Punk and beyond. He says that the collaboration was a natural progression for him and that the fusing of the two sounds actually came rather naturally.

“A raga would often start quite slowly and ambiently, and then it will be played at a certain speed. Then it would go up a notch and then it would finish quite fast and furious, and quite often that happens in a set of Irish music tunes. The similarities are quite fascinating. The musical scales are slightly different as well – I think that’s one of the interesting fusions. Irish music uses a western music scale, major and minor keys, where the Indians have a melodic minor. They might seem at first disparate cultures, but there’s a lot of synergy between them in terms of musical form – but they actually contrast quite nicely as well. Quite effectively.”

Basant Madhur, Jon Sanders, Jenny Os and Sargam Madhur will perform India Meets Ireland in Cromwell on Saturday 10 and in Queenstown on Sunday, 11 February. For more information or to pick up tickets, head to eventfinda.co.nz/2024/india-meets-ireland/arrowtown


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