Ilford violin star to bring South Indian classical to Redbridge Town Hall

Jyotsna Srikanth has been playing the violin since she was five-years-old

Jyotsna Srikanth has been playing the violin since she was five-years-old - Credit: Archant

A veteran violinist is set to amaze audiences and champion South Indian classical music during a four-date festival.

Jyotsna Srikanth (left-centre) with Nordic Raga.

Jyotsna Srikanth (left-centre) with Nordic Raga. - Credit: Archant

Jyotsna Srikanth, 40, of Ley Street, Ilford, who has played under legendary Indian film composer Ilaiyaraaja, is bringing the London International Arts Festival (LIAF) to Redbridge Town Hall on November 23.

The virtuoso and festival artistic director is due to bring carnatic music - a South Indian classical sub-genre - to Ilford, before performing at the iconic music venue The Jazz Café in Camden on November 9.

Jyotsna, who moved to the Ilford a decade ago, will be accompanied at Redbridge Town Hall by carnatic saxophonist Kadri Gopalnath - who pioneered the adaptation of the saxophone in carnatic music.

The violinist, who won the revered Ganakalashree award in India last week, has a well-decorated career composing and playing in more than 200 commercial Indian films.

Legendary carnatic sax player Kadri Gopalnath

Legendary carnatic sax player Kadri Gopalnath - Credit: Archant

Jyotsna, who moved to Ilford due to her husband’s job, said: “When I moved to London I felt like ​a fish out of water - I was extremely busy musically in India, playing for concerts, movies and working as a session musician - coming to London was like building up from scratch.

“But I’ve been able to establish myself here both in the Indian community and beyond by being a keen collaborator.”

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From Irish folk to hip hop and jazz, Jyotsna has done it all, and will even be collaborating with Sweedish folk band Nordic Raga at the Jazz Café.

The musician, who was born in the Indian state of Karnataka, said: “Carnatic music has a very strong base and if one is deep rooted in carnatic music, it’s easy to interpret any system of music.”

Dr Balamuraliskrisha (right) performs with artistic director Jyotsna Srikanth at the London Internat

Dr Balamuraliskrisha (right) performs with artistic director Jyotsna Srikanth at the London International Arts Festival (credit - Chris Christoforou) - Credit: Archant

She added: “I’ve collaborated with everyone from Eduardo Niebla, the Spanish Flamenco guitarist and Vitorino, the Portuguese fado singer.”

Jyotsna, who loves to walk in Ilford’s Valentines Park, is also due to compose a violin concerto with the Philharmonia Orchestra, which is based at the Royal Festival Hall in London’s Southbank Centre.

The refined performer was first inspired to pick up the instrument at the age of five, when her mother had taken her to a concert of carnatic violinist Kunnakudi Vaidyanathan.

She said: “The instrument appealed to me so much that I came back home and took two broomsticks and started imitating playing the violin.”

“After seeing my madness, my mother decided to put me into violin lessons and I started learning the seven stringed violin with legend ​RR Keshavamurthy.”

Jyotsna, who wants to raise the profile of carnatic music, said: “I am against the term ‘world music’ being applied to Indian classical music - the music is vast and deep like western classical music and deserves the same special treatment.”

The musician, who would love to pick up the piano too, started teaching carnatic music after setting up Dhruv Arts in Ilford and eventually setting up LIAF after seeing the need for an organisation championing high quality South Indian music.

She said: “I wanted to devise a festival that has both classical and contemporary art forms and spread it across London - the festival is in its third year now and we’ve gone from playing at one venue to four.”

The festival opens on October 26 at Rich Mix in Bethnal Green and will make its way to the Brunel Museum on October 29 and November 6 in Rotherhithe before the Jazz Café and Redbridge Town Hall dates.

Performers coming to Ilford include the Redbridge Symphony Orchestra and Ilford County Choir among others, with ticket prices starting at £13.

For full details of performers, venues and to buy tickets, visit

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