CSB - Lunchtime Concerts at Symphony Hall (B:Music) 2023

CSB was back in 2023 with more amazing World Music artists, as part of the ongoing series of events in partnership with B:Music at Symphony Hall. CSB showcased a spectrum of local, national and international musicians, originating from around the world. Started the year with soothing melodies from Gambia, followed by traditional music from Eastern Europe.

Thursday 26th January - 1:00pm

Seikou Susso (Gambia)null

Seikou Susso is a master kora player from the Gambia. He comes from a long line of Griots (Oral historians) and is very proud to promote his culture through performances and storytelling, performing solo and as part of larger ensembles. Seikou has participated in many festivals, galas and melas. The distinct and unforgettable sound of the kora has had much success playing alongside some of Britain’s finest musicians. Seikou’s style of world music is adaptable to all occasions and he has performed at events such as the Edinburgh Harp Festival and the fields of Glastonbury. He has also worked with festivals and universities, giving taster sessions, performances and workshops in playing the kora.

Thursday 23rd February  -  1:00pm

Karolina Wegrzyn (Poland)null

Karolina Wegrzyn is a singer, accordionist and hammered dulcimer player from Poland. 

Sub-Carpathia, her native region, is rich in traditional customs and cultures as it borders Ukraine and Slovakia, but also reflects the Jewish, Roma and Rusyn communities that used to live there. Karolina was immersed in these traditions from a young age, performing with her grandmother's folk dance group. 

Since moving to the UK Karolina is involved in many projects with musicians from different backgrounds, such as, Kamil Bogus from EIF, who combines traditional songs with ambient electronic music; also Stacja Fanfara - a concept of gathering musicians from different cultures to play their loved Eastern-European songs. 

Karolina is also a visual artist and a song collector, meeting with elderly citizens to record old forgotten songs and stories.

Thursday 16th March  -  1:00pm

Kadialy Kouyate (Senegal)null

We welcome back Senegalese Kora Maestro Kadialy Kouyate, who opened the series for us back in October 2021.  Kadialy is descended from a great line of griots dating back to the 13th century.  Kadialy’s kora playing and singing style have been appreciated in many ensembles and institutions, enriching the London music scene with his griot legacy.  He has played at venues and festivals across the world, released several albums, and makes regular radio and television appearances, including “Later with Jools Holland” and “BBC Focus on Africa”. Kadialy Koyate draws on his heritage and its traditional songs to create his own mesmerising compositions.




Thursday 20th April - 1pm

Yijia (Chinese)null

This month’s instalment of Celebrating Sanctuary’s lunchtime concerts series brings Yijia to the stage for an entrancing afternoon of beautiful songs, intriguing melodies and traditional Chinese instruments.

Yijia is a Chinese musician and singer-songwriter, specialising in playing the Guzheng (Chinese Zither) and traditional singing.

She is a Chinese Music Award-Winner, and received a Global Talent visa endorsed by Arts Council England. 

Skilled in Mandarin, composition, events organising, writing, communications and media, Yijia has strong networks with Chinese music, and aims to build a bridge between the UK and Chinese music scene.

Guaranteed to inspire. Don’t miss out.

Thursday 25th May - 1pm

Sefo Kanuteh (Gambia)null

Sefo grew up in Foday Kunda on the banks of the River Gambia and was raised by a family of highly skilled kora and balafon players; his musical education was a way of life.

This strong passion for music has been passed down for generations in Sefo’s family and his community - music was not just at the heart of his people, but it defined them.

Having worked closely with artists such as Senegalese singer and guitarist Baba Maal, Sefo's drive to recreate the warmth of his home community in the UK is shown through his inspiring and engaging performances.

Sefo is as mesmerising as he is spectacular. As one of the UK's leading African world music artists, his music's core message revolves around 'community', and how we can use this to connect with each other and collaborate.  What’s not to love!

Thursday July 20th 1-2pm

Ngawang Lodup (Tibet)null

Ngawang comes fom long line of famous Nomadic singers in the Amdo region of Tibet – a beautiful but harsh environment known for fine horses and wild grasslands.

His family herded Yaks & sheep and taught Ngawang his unique repertoire of mountain songs from an early age while he was carried by day on his mother’s back as she tended their herds. Each evening Ngawang’s musical education would continue further when his family would sit & share stories about noble Tibetan folk heroes defeating cruel Warlords and sing songs in praise of the snow mountains – after which his brothers would instruct him in the ancient art of the Dramnyen six-string lute.

In accordance with Tibetan tradition, being the youngest son, Ngawang joined Achok Gonpa Monastery and became a Monk when he was 14 years old, studying the teachings of Gelugpa (Yellow Hat) Buddhism for five years.

Presented with an opportunity to escape Chinese repression, Ngawang de-robed and finally settled in the UK in 2004. He has been performing across Europe for the last decade as a highly sought after singer amongst the Tibetan community in exile, appearing at festivals in France, Belgium, Switzerland and Spain. Ngawang became the first World Music artist to join the “BBC Introducing” initiative, leading to widespread media coverage, performances and interviews.

Thursday 17 August . - 1pm

Los Musicos (Colombia/Mexico)null

Los Musicos play a diversity of styles from Latinamerica: Cuban Son, Colombian Cumbia, Cha-cha-cha, Chicha, Merengue, Bachata, Salsa, Son, Rumba, Bolero.  The warmth of the nylon strung guitar, the bite of the electric guitar together with authentic Latin percussion and traditional singing. That is the sound and vibe you get with Los Musicos.
They have performed at some of the most exclusive venues in the UK, with years of experience performing to all kind of audiences and events across Europe. They regularly play at The Oxo Tower and The National Theatre in London, and have featured on BBC1 during the London Olympic games 2012, Channel 5 ‘The Gadget Show’, BBC2 The Apprentice. Also on BBC Radio2 Jeremy Vine’s show.

Thursday 21 September      - 1:00pm

Faith and Branko (Serbia)null

Leading Serbian Romani violinist Branko Ristic - ‘a performer that Paganini would be proud of’ [BBC Radio 3], and English ‘passionate nimble-fingered accordionist’ Faith Ristic [ABC Radio, Australia] perform virtuosic original Roma-influenced music with their international ensemble. Their albums feature on The Rough Guide to World Jazz; they have played multiple tours of Australia, New Zealand and Europe; have an International Award Winning Documentary that opened Aljazeera Film Festival, and have statues erected in Serbia in honour of their outstanding cultural contribution. It all began 15 years ago - without even a joint language - in a small village in Serbia.

Thursday 19 October     - 1:00pm

Suntou Susso (Gambia)null

Suntou Susso, multi-instrumentalist, is a Kora player, percussionist, singer and composer from The Gambia. Born a Griot in a 700-year old tradition, the Kora is unique to the Griots of the Mandinka people. Griots have a unique societal role as oral historians, transmitting and preserving a people's culture through the generations in song, music and poetry.

From a family of highly respected West African musicians, Suntou's musical abilities are outstanding, unique for his generation. An in-demand and charismatic performer, he attracted attention as soon as he arrived on the UK music scene.  He has collaborated with world class musicians across many genres including Jazz, modern jazz fusion and opera, and was invited to perform alongside Senegalese singer Youssou N’Dour at the O2 Arena.

Suntou has a huge fan base in The Gambia and has released successful singles and videos, which continue to receive daily exposure on national TV and radio.

Thursday 9th November    - 1:00pm

Rihab Azar (Syria)cropped-promo-photo-rihab-17399.jpg

Rihab Azar is a Syrian oud player, composer and music facilitator, graduate of the conservatoire of Damascus (2014). Recognised by Arts Council England as a musician with Exceptional Promise (2016). MA in Music Education, UCL (2018) and a Chevening scholar (2015). Rihab was Wigmore Hall’s Trainee Music Leader for 2022-2023.  She was the first woman oudist to perform accompanied by the Syrian National Orchestra for Arabic Music (2014). Strongly influenced by Middle-Eastern music, as well as frequently collaborating with musicians, ensembles and orchestras with different genre focuses, Rihab has played and written music for projects involving storytelling, visual arts, film, TV programmes, radio and theatre plays.

Her playing was described as “infinitely tender and haunting”- The Arts Desk and her appearance in ENF2021 was described as a “Highlight” - The Guardian.

Rihab performed for CSB in 2019 at Ikon Gallery and for Syrian residents in a community setting.  She also produced an Up Close digital performance and workshop as part of CSB's 2021 Refugee Week Online Programme.  We are really excited to be working with Rihab again and to bring her beautiful and heartfelt music to our audiences.

Thursday 14th December  - 1:00pm

2023 Season Finale featuring Namvula (Zambia/UK) With support from: Babak Aria (Iran)

About the Artists

Namvula (Zambia)null is a singer, songwriter, who fuses the folk and urban traditions of her Zambian homeland and her Scottish roots with London’s eclectic music scene.  Namvula blends African sounds and rhythms with Latin, jazz and folk into uplifting and emotive songs. Crossing boundaries with a refreshing honesty and evocative lyricism, Namvula’s music transports listeners into different worlds, whilst staying firmly rooted in African soil.

One of the few Zambian artists performing in Europe, Namvula has collaborated and shared the stage with top international artists, and has worked with some of the UK’s most respected African, jazz and folk musicians.

Namvula is also a creative music-making and choral workshop facilitator and believes in the power of music to uplift and engage.

After performing for us last last year as a duet we are delighted to welcome Namvula with her full band.

Babak Aria is a musician and singer from Iran who has been living in the UK for less than 2 years.  He plays the traditional Tanbour instrument, and sings in Farsi, kurdish, Turkish and English.  Babak is a song writer, music composer and performer and has a home studio in his room for making music.  He has performed in Derby, Wirksworth and Sheffield since coming to the UK, and was also involved with the Derby Bach Choir.  We are delighted to invite Babak to Symphony Hall to present his music to our Birmingham audiences.

Celebrating Sanctuary is supported by Arts Council England and National Lottery Heritage Fund