”One of the most exhilarating improvised vocal styles on the planet” (The Guardian)

Torchbearers of the 600-year-old Qawwali tradition, the Rizwan-Muazzam Qawwali Group from Pakistan will bring their stunning interpretation of classic Sufi texts to the UK in March, on a national tour managed and produced by Asian Arts Agency. The tour kicks off in Luton on March 22 with a date at The Barbican, London on March 27.

The 2017 tour will mark the 20th anniversary of the death of legendary Pakistani Qawwali singer Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. Rizwan and Muazzam are Nusrat’s nephews, were trained by Nusrat himself in the Qawwali tradition, and are considered by many to be his anointed successors.

The Rizwan-Muazzam UK tour seeks to remember and pay tribute to Nusrat, popularly known as ‘Shahenshah-e-Qawwali’, as part of the 70th anniversary of the formation of Pakistan and the Independence of India. The Rizwan-Muazzam Qawwali Group will be performing Nusrat’s own compositions, many of which have not been heard before by UK audiences, along with traditional and popular Qawwali songs.

Confirmed Tour dates (more to be announced soon):

Wed 22 Mar Luton Library Theatre, Luton

Thu 23 Mar St George’s, Bristol
Sat 25 Mar Harwood Assembly Rooms, Leeds
Sun 26 Mar The Sage, Gateshead
Mon 27 Mar The Barbican, London

Thu 30 Mar Birmingham Town Hall, Birmingham

Rizwan and Muazzam have been performing together since the 1990s. Their performances at festivals and venues around the world, including WOMAD UK and The Royal Opera House, are rare and transcendent experiences and have seen them develop a devoted worldwide following. Performing songs that use hypnotic vocal repetition to induce a state of ecstasy, the brothers’ soaring voices are backed by a gharana, an ensemble of harmonium and tabla accompanied by rhythmic handclaps.

They have produced several acclaimed albums with Real World Records and performed with fellow Pakistani singers and musicians at the Coke Studio Pakistan. They have collaborated with artists from around the world including Fun-da-mental, UK DJ/Producer Neil Sparks, Midival Punditz and Susheela Raman.The 10-piece band performs in traditional style – sitting on the ground rather than on seats – which they believe brings them closer to God. They sing in Farsi (Persian), Punjabi, and Urdu with an intensity that has led one commentator to call them, only half in jest, “the Qawwali Clash.” The brother’s live performances are regarded as being majestic, demanding, exciting, and deeply joyful, and it takes classical music into totally unexpected corners.

Jaswinder Singh, Director of Asian Arts Agency, said of the tour:

“We are delighted to be bringing Rizwan and Muazzam to UK audiences in 2017, as part of our touring programme. Rizwan and Muazzam are arguably the finest Sufi musicians in the world and we are sure that audiences in the UK will have a great time enjoying their incredible live performances. The Agency is one of the leading touring producers of contemporary Asian music in the UK and this tour further strengthens our expanding touring work.”
Rizwan-Muazzam Group said:

“We are all really very excited about our UK tour in 2017 and looking forward to meeting and performing in front of our fans and Qawwali loving audiences. We will be following in the footsteps of our great Uncle Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, he loved performing and meeting his fans in the UK and we will be paying our humble respects to him with a very special show for Qawwali fans in the 20th anniversary year since his passing.”

What is Qawwali music?

Drawing upon a rich vein of Islamic and Sufi poetry, Qawwali music is a centuries-old form of Sufi devotional music from the Indian subcontinent in which romantic love is a metaphor for spiritual adoration and mystical enlightenment. It is not surprising that Qawwali has become a staple of Bollywood film scores and an increasingly central focus of world music programmes in concert halls and festivals throughout the world.