Click here to skip to content

Sacred exhibition: Concert reviews archive


Friday 10 August 2007

Summer Sounds, the British Library's week-long festival of world music celebrating the Sacred exhibition, concluded on Friday with a day of gospel singing. At lunchtime, the young IDMC Gospel Choir (below) led by John Fisher brought their infectious and energetic message of love, hope, joy and peace for all with their contemporary urban sound. IDMC GOspel Choir in concert in the piazza, Friday 10 August 2007

Listen iconHear a short sound clip (MP3, 1 min 21 sec, 560K).

London Community Gospel Choir in concert in the piazza, Friday 10 August 2007In the evening, the festival was completed in unforgettable style by the brilliant London Community Gospel Choir (right; picture Chris Lee). To a jam-packed piazza, they sang dynamic, exciting and moving melodies with rich harmonies in ensembles ranging from octets to a 30-strong choir, sending everyone home with a smile on their face.


Thursday 9 August 2007

Francoise Atlan in concert in the piazza, Thursday 9 August 2007Summer Sounds, the British Library's week-long festival of world music celebrating the Sacred exhibition, continued on Thursday with Moroccan singer Françoise Atlan (right) and the Orchestre Andalou de Fès (below).

Atlan bewitched the crowd with her beautiful, expressive singing that mixes Mediterranean traditions: Sephardic romances of the Jewish communities of North Africa or Andalusia, in Ladino; classical laments of the troubadours in Occitan; and Arab-Andalusian melodies in Arabic.
Francoise Atlan and ensemble in concert in the piazza, Thursday 9 August 2007

Listen iconHear a short sound clip (MP3, 1 min 24 sec, 580K).

Berakah in concert in the piazza, Thursday 9 August 2007The early evening performance came from Berakah (right), who include Jewish, Christian and Muslim musicians. Their lively music combined jazz, classical and Middle Eastern styles, focusing on a message of peace, co-existence and a deeply-felt spirituality.

That wasn't all. In the evening, a packed British Library main hall enjoyed a special evening of music from 8pm till almost midnight on Thursday 9 August – as well as the chance to browse the magnificent Sacred exhibition.

Fantazia in concert inside the British Library, Thursday 9 August 2007Music came first from Louise Setara, a singer not turned 20, but one whose astonishing artistic maturity showed whether in soul, gospel, blues or pop.

She was followed by the heart-stopping vocals of Françoise Atlan and Bahâa Ronda with Mohamed Briouel and the Orchestre Orchestre de Fès (see above). Atlan received so many calls for encores that her set ran over by half an hour!

Finally came Fantazia (right: picture Jonathon Jackson), playing a rootsy blend of North African Gnawa, Chaabi and dance, who got the crowds on their feet (below: picture Jonathon Jackson). The evening's DJ was DJ Karim from Fantazia.

Dancing in the British Library hall, Thursday 9 August 2007


Wednesday 8 August 2007

Summer Sounds continued on Wednesday with the Sayed Temsamani Orchestra from Morocco (below), who performed in both lunchtime and evening slots. The group, from Tangier, explores the vast heritage of the songs of the Sufi brotherhoods. Audiences enjoyed the ecstatic sound of love and longing from a group acclaimed at the Fes Festival of Sacred Music.

Sayed Temsamani in concert in the piazza, Wednesday 8 August 2007

Listen iconHear a short sound clip (MP3, 1 min 05 sec, 450K).


Tuesday 7 August 2007

St Yeghiche Church Choir in concert in the piazza, Tuesday 7 August 2007Summer Sounds continued on Tuesday with beautiful Armenian sacred music from the choir (right) of St Yeghiche, the well-known Armenian church in Cranley Gardens, London.

Under choirmaster Aris Nadirian, the choir have also performed at Westminster Abbey, Westminster Cathedral and Southwark Cathedral.

Listen iconHear a short sound clip (MP3, 1 min 10 sec, 480K).

Crowd in the piazza, Monday 6 August 2007 The evening saw exuberance, defiance, celebration and wit in Burning Bush's foot-tapping performances that mixed Klezmer, Arab dance influences, and Jewish ghetto ballads. They were followed by the London Jewish Male Choir's highly accomplished and stirring performances, sung in Hebrew, Yiddish, Ladino, Russian and English.


Monday 6 August 2007

Durbin Shah Memorial Trust UK in concert in the piazza, Monday 6 August 2007Summer Sounds, the British Library's week-long festival of world music celebrating the Sacred exhibition, started brightly on a sunny if blustery day.

A packed piazza enjoyed the pulsating rhythms of Bangladeshi folk music from the Baul music ensemble Durbin Shah Memorial Trust UK (right).

Listen iconHear a short sound clip (MP3, 1 min 20 sec, 550K).

They were followed in the evening by a performance of inspiring Sufi devotional music from East London-based Ustad Haji Ameer Khan and Ustad Ali Hafeez Khan, who come from one of Pakistan's most respected musical families (below).

Ameer Khan qawwali group in concert in the piazza, Monday 6 August 2007


the hall at the British Library during the Late event Thu 26 JulLATE AT THE LIBRARY
Thursday 26 July 2007

More than 200 people enjoyed an evening of comedy, poetry and music at the Library in an event that went on until almost midnight.

Dry humour came from Shazia Mirza; there was music from Zohar Sounds System, a DJ/percussion set from Erran Baron Cohen, and poetry from Shamshad Khan and Berta Freistadt.

poets Shamshad Khan and Berta Freistadt at the British LibraryThere was also a chance for visitors to take a look at the Sacred exhibition.

The photos (courtesy of Jane Richardson) show poets Shamshad Khan and Berta Freistadt (right) and (top) the 'Late' crowd in the Library's front hall.


Thursday 17 May 2007

The Tallis Scholars in concert in the British Library entrance hall 17 May 2007There was a wonderful performance by the Tallis Scholars this afternoon in the Library entrance hall. The concert was held in celebration of the Sacred exhibition and also of Ascension Day, a key date in the Christian calendar.

It was a free event. Within minutes of the start, hundreds of people had gathered, coming out of the reading rooms and exhibition galleries, to listen to them singing beautiful unaccompanied renaissance sacred vocal works. They performed extracts from Monteverdi's Messa in illo tempore and Gombert's motet In illo tempore. Monteverdi's mass was directly inspired by, and based on the music of, Gombert's piece, enabling listeners to hear the response of one great master to another.

The concert also became an informal but appropriate tribute to Sir Colin St John Wilson – the architect of the British Library – who sadly passed away earlier this week.

Listen iconHear a short sound clip


Bank Holiday Monday 7 May 2007

Whirling Dervish in the British Library

Menorah installation in piazzaDespite the inevitable Bank Holiday downpour, 3,000 people came along to enjoy Sacred Ways, an afternoon of entertainment in the British Library piazza. Most of those who attended took the chance to visit the Sacred Exhibition itself, which saw its biggest queues since the exhibition started on 27 April.

The Piazza of the British Library was transformed, with a programme of outdoor performances, workshops, food, crafts, installations and displays. They reflected on sacred places, journeys and traditions associated with the Jewish, Christian and Islamic faiths.

Children painting in piazza before the rain cameFamilies were very much in evidence, and all ages enjoyed the wide range of music and dance on display. Artists included the London Jewish Male Choir, the IDMC Gospel Choir and the Ameer Khan Qawwali Group.

For many, the highlight was the spectacular performance from Zia Azazi (picture, top), an exponent of modern Sufi dance. (You can watch a video here. ) It brought a day of celebration to a climax with an extraordinary and mesmerising whirling dervish dance. (Pictures: Jane Richardson)

Audio, videos, and more

Sacred contexts