Music Learning and Performance in London's Tamil Diaspora - an AHRC-funded research project at Goldsmiths in collaboration with the Asian Music Circuit


This research project, funded by an AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Award, sheds light on transnational music-making within Sri Lankan and South Indian communities in London. The research has involved extensive fieldwork on music learning and performance with musicians, community members and institutions active in London. In collaboration with the Asian Music Circuit, the two events outlined below aim to connect the research project, the musical community and the public, thereby forging new links between the academy and society at large.


7 May 2014 - Jasmine Hornabrook: "Mapping the soundscape of South Indian music in London"
Musics of the Indian subcontinent are being learned and performed all around Greater London. South Indian music fills the spaces of homes, hindu temples, community schools, and suburban theatres, as well as internationally prestigious venues such as the Southbank Centre and the Royal Albert Hall. However, most of this music-making takes place outside the vision of the mainstream public in the capital. These musics are largely community-based, particularly endorsed by the exiled Sri Lankan Tamil community, and supported by musicians and migrants from South India. In this presentation, I explored and mapped the styles of music and contexts of South Indian performances in London, from time-honoured traditions of Tamil temple singing, to lavish debut classical performance ceremonies, bringing to light a vibrant musical community just under the surface of London's multicultural society. I discussed the adaption and translation of an Asian classical music into the musical landscape of London today, and my own experience of gaining access to this music scene as a researcher. This was an opportunity to see fieldwork footage from community-based performances, and to learn about South Indian music within London's Sri Lankan and South Indian diaspora.

The presentation preceded a performance of South Indian music by three of London's Tamil musicians who performed a Carnatic concert at Deptford Town Hall on the 8May 2014.

8 May 2014 - Migrating Music: An Evening of South Indian Music at Goldsmiths

A concert of South Indian classical and Tamil music was performed by Sri Lankan and South Indian artists - Manipallavam K. Sarangan (vocal), K. T. Sivaganesan (violin) and P. Kirupakaran (mridangam – barrel drum). From prestigious stages in Chennai, South India, and temple festivals in North London, the musicians brought classical compositions, invigorating melodic and rhythmic improvisations, and age-old devotional songs to Goldsmiths. This was a unique opportunity to see and hear the vibrant music of London's Tamil diaspora.


Manipallavam K. Sarangan received his initial music education in the Northern Jaffna peninsula, Sri Lanka. He received advanced training in Chennai, South India, with the eminent late Prof. K. V. Narayanaswamy, whilst studying for numerous academic qualifications in music. Now living in the UK, Sarangan teaches at the London Tamil Centre, and has built a reputation as an impressive classical vocalist in Europe, Canada and South Asia.

Sri K. T. Sivaganesan is a leading resident violinist in London. He received musical training from his father and M. R. Gopinath in South India, and has accompanied many of the top musicians and dancers in India and Europe.

Sri P. Kirupakaran is an established teacher and performer of the mridangam in the UK. Hailing from a family of musicians in North Sri Lanka, Kirupakaran has furthered his musical training with the mridangam maestro, Kaaraikudi R. Mani, in Chennai, India.

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