Since November, London has been playing host to the first ever Buta Festival of Azerbaijani Arts.The festival is organised by Buta Art Centre a foundation dedicated to promoting Azeri culture to the wider world and, over these last few months, we've seen some of the best of what the country’s vibrant art scene has to offer.
Concerts featuring up and coming young Jazz muscians Shahin Novrasli and Isfar Sarabsky and an exhibition by award-winning photographer Rena Effendi capturing the everyday realities of those living along BP's 1,700km Baku-Tibilisi Ceyhan pipeline were just some of the highlights. We even had the opportunity to experience Azerbaijan’s delicious food at the Slow Food Market on the South Bank.
This second half of the festival is no less impressive! World-class musicians including Gidon Kremer and Shlomo Mintz (great name) are taking part in concerts ranging from a night dedicated to Mugham music at St-Martin-in-the-Fields to a gala concert at the Royal Festival Hall featuring Azeri music never played in the UK before.
Tair Salakhov, Azerbaijan’s most celebrated artist and one who daringly introduced modernism to the USSR, will stage his first ever exhibition in this country in a retrospective of his long and illustrious artistic career.
An evening dedicated to the different international interpretations of the prayer Ave Maria is led by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and is a meditation on Azerbaijans position at the meeting place between Christian and Islamic worlds.
Where East meets West, Azerbaijan, known as "The Land of Fire" due to the phenomena of "burning hillsides" caused by gas seeping through fissures in the earth, is a tangle of contradictions and contrasts. It is a nexus of ancient historical empires and, at the same time, a new nation emerging out of of it's war-torn, post-Soviet shadows.
A discussion on Black January and it's role in the collapse of the USSR at Kings College re-ignites the festival this Friday and sets it back on its fiery path,