Cafe hosts 30-day world music and film festival

Kadans. Photo: Nick Wright

A not-for-profit cafe in Bethnal Green will be hosting a 30-day world tour of artistic events, starting today, in an attempt to change perceptions of what the area’s entertainment scene has to offer.

The Gallery Café, which is owned by the independent charity St. Margaret’s House Settlement, will showcase a cross-genre extravaganza of concerts, film screenings, talks and workshops throughout March, using an impressive array of performers from leading UK and global art institutions.

Siobhan Watts, events and development officer at St. Margaret’s House said: “We have completely revamped our program, introducing more jazz and folk instead of your typical London promoters. Our program at St. Margaret’s will include films, workshops, screenings, as well as the chance to sample special dishes that tie in with the event – Indian music will have Indian food for example.”

The first destination on the map will be Poland, where visitors can discover the life and times of a Jewish-Polish musician, Wladyslaw Szpilman, during Nazi occupation in the film screening of The Pianist. The venue will host events from France, North Africa and the Middle East, with the Melange Collective providing a modern fusion of jazz and gypsy tunes.

On March 11, the Brazilian ensemble Bossalada trio will give guests a cultural taste of a ‘salada mista,’ combining Brazilian traditional songs with an Italian flavour, followed by the chamber music of Sefiroth band on March 12.

Special guests include the London School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) PhD researcher, Joe Browing, who will be playing traditional pieces on a shakakachi bamboo flute and award-winning Indian violinist, Nandini Muthuswamy.

Watts added: “We wanted to bring in performances that people would not normally expect to make it interesting. The musicians have agreed in good faith to a much-reduced fee in order to make this event more accessible within the community. Our aim is to introduce diversity to the program and celebrate all types of music and traditions. The fact that all the proceeds will be going to a good cause too is what makes this event special. It is our first-ever music festival and we hope it will be successful.”

St. Margaret’s House Settlement, founded in 1889, provides practical initiatives, projects and activities to serve the local community. It supports the African Women’s Welfare Association, Urban Youth, Tower Hamlets Friends and Neighbours and other voluntary and community groups.

Tickets to all performances cost £5.

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