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Sunday 16 June 2024

Brighton Festival Guest Director For 2025 Will Be Grammy-Nominated Musician, Composer & Activist Anoushka Shankar

Brighton Festival has announced Anoushka Shankar as next year's Guest Director. The Festival will take place from 3-25 May and is a celebration of music, theatre, dance, art, film, literature, debate, outdoor and community events in venues and locations across Brighton, Hove and Sussex.

Credit Laura Lewis

Anoushka Shankar's many accomplishments include a series of notable firsts: with nine Grammy nominations under her belt, she was the first Indian musician to perform live and present at the Awards and the first Indian woman to be nominated. 

She was also the youngest and first female recipient of a British House of Commons Shield, recognising her as a pre-eminent musician of the Asian arts, and one of the first female composers to become part of the UK's A-level music syllabus.

With more than 25 years of performing behind her, she is a singular, genre-defying artist spanning the worlds of classical and contemporary and acoustic and electronic music. 

Shankar began studying the sitar and Indian classical music at the age of nine under the intensive tutelage of her father, legendary sitar master Pandit Ravi Shankar. 

Making her professional debut at 13, she began touring worldwide, embarking on a successful solo touring career at 18 and becoming known for her virtuosic yet emotional playing style, unusual instrumentation and precise rhythmic interplay.

Her touring career has taken her from legendary jazz cafes to iconic symphony halls to large-scale festival stages. 

A frequent collaborator, she has worked with a diverse range of artists such as Herbie Hancock, Patti Smith, Joshua Bell, Sting, Gold Panda, Rodrigo y Gabriela, Jules Buckley, her half-sister Norah Jones and His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

Shankar has also composed for cinema, scoring the British Film Institute's restoration of Shiraz, one of the first major Indian silent feature films, and co-composing the soundtrack to Mira Nair's A Suitable Boy.

Known for her activism, Shankar has been outspoken about her experiences as a woman and a survivor of child abuse, supporting campaigns such as One Billion Rising, which aims to end violence against women and girls. 

She frequently works with organisations such as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Help Refugees and The Walk, to raise funds and awareness for the refugee crisis. 

In 2020 she was announced as the inaugural President of the F-List - a UK database created to help bridge the gender-gap in music.

Anoushka Shankar will be Brighton Festival's 16th Guest Director, following in the footsteps of Anish Kapoor, Brian Eno, Laurie Anderson, Kae Tempest, Lemn Sissay OBE and, in 2024, author and screenwriter Frank Cottrell-Boyce. 

Brighton Festival 2024 enjoyed its highest ticket sales in five years, with more than 50k tickets sold, plus more free and pay-what-you decide events than ever before.

On becoming Guest Director of Brighton Festival 2025, Anoushka Shankar says:

"It brings me so much pride and joy to have been invited to be Brighton Festival's Guest Director for the 2025 season. 

"I have loved the beauty, energy and eclecticism of Brighton since I was a teenager and was thrilled to play Brighton Festival myself a couple of years ago. 

"I'm elated to now have the chance to get involved in programming a festival of diverse and cross-pollenating art forms from around the globe. 

"It's my hope that the artists involved in the Festival can draw on their skills and heritages past and present to share perspectives on new ways forward across all areas of our lives, our challenges, and our dreams."

Shankar will work with the Brighton Festival programming team to develop a diverse and inclusive programme of events, which will be revealed at the official launch in February.

Brighton Festival 2025 will take place from Saturday 3rd – Sunday 25th May.

by: Mike Cobley


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