Composer and classical guitarist Simon Thacker’s deep lifelong immersion in the purest folk, classical and spiritual forms of the Indian subcontinent and intuitive ability to propel traditions forward sees him create gloriously unpredictable, extraordinarily expansive programmes of original compositions and radical reimaginings for his spectacularly gifted Svara-Kanti ensemble.
Channelling the explosive virtuosity of some of today’s most gifted performers and his own fierce individualism, Thacker has created a body of work unprecedented in its sheer creative wealth, intricacy, depth of understanding, scale and integrity. His instrumental music draws on both the Hindustani and Carnatic classical systems, building on the expression of classical Indian systems to create an infinite emotional fluidity. His instinctive rhythmic gift is as ferocious as it is layered and gives his music an unmistakeable intensity.
Through transformations of Punjabi folk luminaries Thacker has created a new living form, as has his reimaginings of songs from the mystical Bengali Baul folk tradition and instrumental works utilising the incredible sound of the Baul instrument, khomok.
In an era when referencing global influences is the norm, Thacker stands apart for having won widespread acceptance and acclaim of his reimaginings in their heartlands, as well as for his startlingly original new work. Svara-Kanti has toured and collaborated to great acclaim at major festivals in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, most recently for an audience of 60 000 in Dhaka, as well as at leading UK festivals, including the Southbank Centre’s Alchemy, Cheltenham Festival, Glasgow Jazz Festival and the prestigious Made in Scotland showcase at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. TV and and radio appearances include sessions for BBC Radio 3’s World on 3 and In Tune, STV, BBC Asian network, Pakistani state radio and TV, Aaj TV (Pakistan), ARY TV (Pakistan) and Maasranga TV (Bangladesh).
A formidable acoustic lineup of musicians who passionately embrace intercultural collaboration, innovation and the joy of creating, Svara-Kanti is a collective that changes lineup depending on the focus of the programme. There are currently two main lineups: a quintet of guitar, singer, violin, cello and tabla, and trio of Baul singer/khomok, guitar and tabla. The members include: singer Japjit Kaur (who has also won worldwide recognition in the title role of the Amnesty International Award winning play Nirbhaya), Britten Sinfonia leader Jackie Shave on violin, acclaimed Polish cellist Justyna Jablonska, tabla master Sukhvinder Singh “Pinky”, whose many notable achievements include the Grammy Award winning Ry Cooder album “A Meeting By The River", tabla luminary and longtime collaborator Sarvar Sabri and Raju das Baul, a spectacular young exponent of one of Bengal’s spiritually and philosophically richest folk forms. 2016 saw the group's Bangladesh debut and Baul singer Farida Yasmin as special guest.
Svara-Kanti's 2013 debut album Rakshasa set a new benchmark for Indian/Western music. Featuring world premieres by Simon and seminal composers including US Minimalism legend Terry Riley, Rakshasa was hailed as the most important contemporary Indian/Western releases by over 50 major publications and journalists around the world, gained awards in several “albums of the year” lists and airplay on over 200 US radio stations alone. A new (double) album, designed to be the most penetrating and advanced Indo-Western release to date, will be released in 2017.
Svara - Kanti performers
"Simon Thacker’s musical experiments are joyously unconventional....Unlike fusing several genres, what Thacker and his team have done is create their own musical tradition." The Hindu, India
"A formidable exploration of Asian and Western sounds that bends the traditions as much as it does one's preconceptions" All About Jazz (USA)
"It is expansive, inclusive and thrillingly inventive, often unpredictable music which is grounded in many traditions" Elsewhere (New Zealand)
"Strikes an exquisite balance between traditional Indian music and modern composition while exploring the former's relationship with other genres." The Australian
"The Scottish classical guitarist was a refreshing element...There was no attempt at 'fusion' -- something that urbanite and westerners often try with our folk music -- but just a seamless amalgamation." The Dhaka Daily Star (Bangladesh)
“Thacker has more than shown us exactly how good an intercultural collaboration can be.” TV Bomb
“Simon forges and explores new genres by combining his knowledge and love of music from every corner of the globe.” Dawn (Pakistan)
“Thacker’s own compositions here reflect his own far-ranging musical journey: witness the echoes of flamenco” The Scotsman