This October, renowned multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Nitin Sawhney is set to once more headline and curate the Journeys Festival, an eclectic five-day programme which returns to the Royal Albert Hall following the festival’s sell-out debut in 2021. The season also features an exhibition by photographer Alan Compton and recitals from Indian classical musician Jasdeep Singh Degun and composer and vocalist Ayanna Witter-Johnson.
Sawhney’s concert on Friday 20 October will be showcasing music from his upcoming album release, Identity, as his performance will be the centrepiece of the festival. The season, which celebrates diverse journeys and identity through music, art and discussion, is curated by Sawhney himself.
The Journeys Festival extends beyond the Hall’s auditorium, with recitals, talks and a free exhibition held in other spaces around the historic building. The Elgar Room will host recitals from virtuoso sitarist Jasdeep Singh Degun on Saturday 21 October and multi-instrumentalist Ayanna Witter-Johnson on Wednesday 25 October. Degun will be performing North Indian classical and contemporary music with tabla accompaniment, having built a reputation for breaking down cultural boundaries, whilst Witter-Johnson seamlessly merges classical, jazz, reggae, soul and R&B, to create her signature sound.
Matthew Todd, Director of Programming and Engagement at the Hall, said, “We are incredibly proud to be hosting the Journeys Festival once again at the Hall. Nitin has achieved so much throughout his musical career and charitable endeavours, and he is the perfect partner for curating this diverse and eclectic line-up with us in October. The 2021 edition was a roaring success, so we are thrilled to be expanding this programme even further this time around.”
The Journeys exhibition, which will be open from Wednesday 18 October to Thursday 16 November, will be installed throughout the ground floor corridor to showcase the work of photographer Alan Compton, whose work focuses on migrant experiences. Through photography and film, his aim is to capture the resilience of the human spirit.
Nitin Sawhney said, “I cannot wait to bring the Journeys festival back to the Royal Albert Hall. It is an opportunity to acknowledge, and participate in, the unique contributions of individuals from different cultures, beliefs and backgrounds. The Journeys festival is not only about enjoying music, but is also a chance to engage in meaningful discussions about the issues that matter most to us… Who we are and how we came to this time. I am excited to see special guests and artists come together to reflect on our differences and find common ground through the power of music, life experiences, art and conversation.”
Talks will also take place on Saturday 21 October and Wednesday 25 October, covering the topics of identity, journeys and the importance of food within cultural heritage. Guest speakers will include award-winning chef, restaurateur, author and journalist Ravinder Bhogal, co-founder of Indian restaurant chain Dishoom Shamil Thakra, composer and cellist Ayanna Witter-Johnson and journalist Maya Goodfellow, amongst others.
Sawhney first performed at the Royal Albert Hall in 2001 and since then has headlined the BBC Proms, commissioned for the Hall’s organ, performed a special 2019 show marking 20 years of his Mercury Prize nominated album, Beyond Skin, and curated the 2021 Journeys Festival as part of the Hall’s 150th anniversary celebrations. His brand-new album, Identity, is the follow up to his critically acclaimed 2021 album, Immigrants, and is released on Friday 13 October via Warner Music. Darling Boy and Ancestral, the first and second singles from the album, respectively feature Guy Garvey and Hak Baker, and are both out now.
Sawhney holds seven honorary doctorates, two fellowships, an honorary degree, the 2017 Ivor Novello Lifetime Achievement Award and a CBE. As a composer, Sawhney is a BAFTA and Academy member and he is the Chair of Trustees for the PRS Foundation, the UK’s leading charitable funder of new music and talent development.
Tickets and the full Journeys Festival line-up are available from the Royal Albert Hall website: https://www.royalalberthall.com/tickets/series/journeys/