saturday 8th november
6.30 pm Book Reading from “Sung in a Sensual Style”  a book on Thumri and its allied forms by Rekha Surya

Hindustani light classical music primarily encompasses Thumri, Dadra, Kajri, Jhoola, Hori, Chaiti, Sawan and Ghazal. Once associated only with courtesan-singers, this genre of music has a mystical dimension, enabling the absorption of Sufi poetry.

Contemporary ideas seep into traditional genres, like leaves  from tree on a riverbank fall and float on the river to become one with it. This document chronicles such changes within the genre and illuminates all its facets, taking the reader through its history, philosophy and practical aspects.

One of the few practitioners of the Lucknow Gharana of North Indian music, Rekha Surya has kept alive traditional  ghazal-gayaki and presented the legacy of her legendary Guru Begum Akhtar  by propagating this art in India and abroad. Having also honed her skills under the tutelage of another legend, Girja Devi of the Benaras Gharana , she has combined both styles of singing into an individualistic style.

The infusion of spirituality into an essentially romantic genre is a unique part of her repertoire. The ancient literary traditions she draws from have both  South Asian Muslim and Hindu cultural references.

“Rekha Surya’s writing is like her singing – captivating and intense yet touchingly simple. She writes about her musical genre with familiarity, ease and authority in a lucid, succinct style. This book serves to help the reader understand the genre’s  intrinsic connection to Sufi poetry and is a pleasure to read for all lovers of Indian classical and semi classical music.”  Shabana Azmi


friday 21st to tuesday 25th november
“Water series” an exhibition of photographs by Amita Virmani
Opening – friday 21st at 6.30 pm
Exhibition – 22nd to 25th 11.30 to 7 pm


Rapidly moving water is an amazing medium to showcase constant change in beauty. Photographing sunlight and moonlight reflecting in moving water presents a continuous dynamic play of color, light, textures and patterns interweaving to create a visual treat. The reflecting sun caught in the spray creates fine streaks of light across the canvas of water to resemble a firework display.  At other times the movement of reflection of sky, sunlight and vegetation are like a painting created by a master painter. The reflection of moonlight on water tells its own story as it competes to co-exist with the white spray of waves. No two frames are alike. Each frame captures a unique movement. No moment presents itself for replication. Each photograph is a symphony of light, movement, color and texture. 

Amita’s photographs are about the inherent beauty in nature, portray people in their context and document social issues. While the influence of culture on photography is inevitable, Amita attempts to go beyond boundaries, to touch sensibilities at a visual and emotional level. Her photographs are an attempt at reflecting the silent contact made with what is around, what is seen and how it is understood. The approach is to grasp “that” which strikes sensibilities with its beauty or stark reality. 

Paradoxically, her long experience of the techy-savvy corporate world of the IT industry across different cultures and countries made her increasingly sensitive to the elements that exist beyond culture. Her transient living style of constant movement across geographies has influenced her choice of subjects. Photographing nature is a way to seek continuity across borders, seasons and to project the inherent power and beauty of the elements. The series on “Water” is  testament to continuity.  

An ongoing project on “Garbage” is documenting the contrasting approaches to  environment .The photographs present a story of contrasts in attitudes, technology and  management across geographies.  

Photography for Amita marks the celebration of life starting at sixty. She entered the world of  photography by starting a facebook group as a forum for people to share their photographs. The overwhelming response led her to develop a more discerning eye to distinguish between “snapshots” and “photographs” and plunge into the world of photography with enthusiasm. She shoots in multiple ways:  pin-hole, film and digital. 

Established photographers Guy Glorieux, Cynthia Copper and Ann Pearson in Montreal have been her mentors and guided her in developing as a photographer.  

Courses at Concordia University, and Dawson College in Montreal, have contributed to developing technique, deciding the  type of photography while  providing a formal education in photography. 

Amita’s work has been exhibited at the Visual Arts Centre, McClure Art Gallery, Montreal, Canada.

Her photographs have been published in:

  • Photo Solutions Magazine, Quebec
  • World Pinhole Photography