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11-17 Stoke Newington Road
N16 8BH

5 July 2022, 7.30pm

New music by Afghan composers in exile or hiding, performed by the Oxford Philharmonic Orchestra and conductor Cayenna Ponchione-Bailey, with guest performers on traditional Afghan instruments. 

Saphwat Simab   Rubab

Shahbaz Hussain  Tabla

Yusuf Mahmoud   Harmonium/voice

Mehboob Nadeem   Sitar

William Rees Hoffman  Dutar

w/special guest appearance by Ustad Asif Mahmoud  Tabla

and Singers from the King's College London Chapel Choir and Imperial College Chamber Choir


This concert is presented with the generous support of The Henfrey Charitable Trust, The New Music Commission Fund, The University of Sheffield, Sir Howard and Lady Stringer, Jon & Julia Aisbitt, Sir Winfried Bischoff, David and Elizabeth Ure, and individual donors.

Saphwat Simab, rubab

An official disciple of the world’s foremost Rubab master, Ustad Homayoun Sakhi of Afghanistan, Saphwat Simab is a British-born artist who has been learning and playing the Rubab since the age of ten. Saphwat’s tone and melodious playing has captured the hearts of audiences at every performance, his on-stage confidence and command on the instrument as well as his command on the rhythmic cycles whilst improvising in any composition with the tabla accompaniment is mesmerising. Saphwat has been accompanied on stage by some of the world’s most renowned Tabla masters, such as Ustad Sukhvinder Singh “Pinky”, Pandit Sanju Sahai and Ustad Shahbaz Hussain. He has performed at many prestigious venues including the Purcell Room at Queen Elizabeth Hall, the National Court Theatre, and the Nehru Centre, as well as across the UK, Germany, Switzerland and Canada.

Shahbaz Hussain.jpeg
Shahbaz Hussain,  tabla

Shahbaz began his training in the art of tabla at age five with his father, the late Ustad Mumtaz Hussain – a prominent vocalist. He later went on to study with tabla legends Ustad Faiyaz Khan from the Delhi Gharana (school), the late Ustad Shaukat Hussain Khan from the Punjab Gharana and finally the late Ustad Allah Rakha Khan. Shahbaz regularly travels across the world to present performances, including throughout Europe, North America & the Asian subcontinent. He has performed in many prestigious venues, including the Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C., Lincoln Center in New York and London's Royal Albert & Queen Elizabeth Halls.  His band, Indus, has received critical acclaim for their debut album Firefly and they continue to tour the UK & internationally.

Yusuf Mahmoud, harmonium & voice

Yusuf Mahmoud was born in Kabul, and is the son of Ustad Asif Mahmoud, from the most famous family of tabla players in Afghanistan. The family boasts a lineage of tabla players dating all the way back to the 18th century. Yousuf has studied with master musicians such as his father Ustad Asif Mahmoud, Ustad Bandu Khan, and the great Ustad Alla Rakha.

Mehboob Nadeem, sitar

Born into a highly illustrious family of traditional musicians of the Agra Gharana, Mehboob is the grandson of the legendary Ustad Vilayat Hussain Khan (Pranpiya) and Gayan Samrat Ustad Azmat Hussain Khan (Dilrang). Endowed with a rich melodious and sonorous voice, Mehboob was initiated in the art of music at a very young age by his father Ustad Yakub Hussain. He then began his sitar training under the guidance of his uncle Shri Rafat Khan. He is now under the guidance of world-renowned sitar maestro Pandit Arvind Parikh. Under the devoted teaching of his Guru and mentor Pandit Arvind Parikh he has excelled in perfecting the techniques and style of the legendary sitar maestro Ustad Vilayat Khan. He is a widely respected sitar player who is acknowledged as one of the most accomplished of the present generation of the Vilayatkhani Gharana and is known to be one of the best sitar players in the UK. He is regularly called to perform throughout India, Africa, Europe and the UK.

William Rees Hofmann, Herati dutar

British musician William Rees Hofmann is a multi-instrumentalist specialising in both the Indian Sarod and the Afghan Rubab. Representing the musical lineages of the Maihar Gharana as well as that of Ustad Nabi Gol of Kabul, he has been studying sarod for the past thirteen years under the tutelage of Satyam Rai in Gujarat, India, and has been a student of the eminent rubab player and ethnomusicologist Dr John Baily since 2013. Hofmann earned a BA in Hindustani Vocal Music from the Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda in Gujarat, India, and also holds an MMus degree from SOAS in Sarod and Rubab Performance. William has performed internationally both solo and with Jāmi Ensemble, including at the Jaipur Literature Festival, Patiala Punjab, Muzaffar Ali's Jahān-e-Khusrau, and the Edinburgh Fringe, among others, as well as run workshops on the classical music of Kabul. In 2021 he received a Divergence Commission from the ZeroClassikal Project to compose and perform a full-length work for sarod and viola. William has also recently been granted a Senior Performing Arts Fellowship from the American Institute of Indian Studies to turn his doctoral research on early Sufi song text collections into a performance and lecture/demonstration along with an Indo-Persian musical ensemble.

Ustad Asif Mahmoud, tabla

Ustad Asif Mahmoud, originally from Afghanistan, is from a long and prestigious lineage of Tabla players dating back to the eighteenth century. His initial education was with his father, and his eldest brother, the late Ustad Hashim. He later became the disciple of the great Ustad Allah Raka Khan, to complete his musical education and become qualified as a master (ustad). Ustad Asif has performed widely across the country and internationally alongside the most prominent musicians of Afghanistan. He was also a master advisor to the Aga Khan Music Initiative in Kabul from 2006 to 2009.

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