Ku-Da-Mix Orchestra, The

Multicultural orchestra for hire.
The Ku-Da-Mix Orchestra seeks to represent and celebrate diversity and harmony through musical and theatrical expression, combining Western classical, jazz and Indian traditional music.

Ku-Da-Mix Orchestra’s performance in May 2008 was one of the standout events of the festival

Jonathan Holloway, Artistic Director of Norfolk & Norwich Festival
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The Ku-Da-Mix Orchestra seeks to represent and celebrate diversity and harmony through musical and theatrical expression, combining Western classical, jazz and Indian traditional music. Original compositions draw on Eastern and Western sources, with performers from African, Indian, Chinese, Latin American, Armenian and Western classical backgrounds, in a fusion of sound and colour.

Kuljit Bhamra and David White are the co-Founders and Artistic Directors of Ku-Da-Mix – a new multicultural orchestra. We develop, compose and arrange original work for the ensemble which awakens curiosity and both surprises and entertains audiences. We introduce them to a new world of sounds from both familiar and little-known instruments and cultures. We explore environmental, visual and theatrical possibilities, which add new dimensions to the live musical experience. Having completed a very successful sell-out London launch at the Scala we are undertaking a national tour in 2008, with the ultimate intention to tour worldwide.

Our focus recently has been on Research and Development. The following core questions provide the foundation of our explorations and discussions:

• Environment and Visual Experience
In this age of video, surround sound and multi-media, how can we use space, light, images, design and movement in imaginative ways in a concert environment?

• Tradition and Expectation
How can we challenge inherited and traditional orchestral codes of practice and transform the expectations of both performers and audiences?

• Audience Development
How can we take music to the heart of communities who would not normally travel to traditional concert venues, but may consider attending a performance in, for example, their local disused bus station or cinema?

• Space, Place and Architecture
How do we engage with audiences in a way that draws them into a shared discovery of a space and encourages them to look afresh at their local environment?


Since inception, Kuljit and David have met and created musical pieces with musicians from a variety of backgrounds and cultures. Together with the orchestra, we have recorded a CD which will soon be released on KEDA Records.

The current members of the Ku-Da-Mix Orchestra are:

Kuljit Bhamra Indian tabla, percussion
David White Piano
Abdullah Chhaddeh Syrian qanun
Cevanne Horrocks-Hopayian Celtic harp, voice
Carolina Herrera Spanish guitar, voice
Nicky Holland Oboe, cor anglais
Marcus Bates French horn
Tigran Aleksanyan Armenian duduk
Sonia Slany Violin
Liz Liew Violin
Hazel Correa Violin
Sarah Liew Chinese violins and lutes
Shan Chana Cajon, percussion
Ameet Jugnauth African percussion
Anna Mudeka Zimbabwean thumb harp, voice
Shahid Khan Indian voice
Gayatri Iyer Indian voice
Alex Housego Indian bansuri, flute
Davide Mantovani Double bass, evi

The orchestra is organic and constantly evolving, input from new members changing the palette as they bring their particular cultures and experiences into our mix.

In addition to the above (many of whom are internationally recognised performers and soloists in their own right!), from time to time Ku-Da-Mix work with featured soloists such as Andy Shepherd, Zoe Rahman and Kathryn Tickell.

The project is attracting keen interest from the media and music journalists. In addition, the process of the formation of the band has been filmed with a view to creating a documentary in the future.

During 2008/09 Ku-Da-Mix undertook a successful Arts Council funded tour. They appeared at a number of high profile festivals and participated in an educational outreach programme with schools in Milton Keynes, culminating in a performance at The Stables in Wavendon. A selection of testimonials are shown below.

Jonathan Holloway, Artistic Director of Norfolk & Norwich Festival:

“Ku-Da-Mix Orchestra’s performance in May 2008 was one of the standout events of the festival. The quality of the performance was extremely high and the atmosphere and buzz in the hall electrifying. The collaborative nature of the group and the world-class musicians that were brought together for the project, map perfectly the desire of the Norfolk & Norwich Festival to support and deliver innovative artistic partnerships that represent the widest possible range of cultural styles and practice. The group were also highly adaptable and responsive to our wish for the performance to spread beyond the confines of the hall itself, with ripples and echoes of the show spreading into a courtyard of a nearby independent cinema before the show, an alfresco jam in front of St Andrew’s Hall and an intimate encounter with a small group to one side of the stage. Ku-Da-Mix Orchestra also inspired us to try a completely new layout for the main performance itself – taking out all the main auditorium seats and presenting the work in the round, which was very effective and drew positive responses from the audience. All power to Kuljit and David – we hope their work gets seen by as many people as possible!”

Maria Bota, Artistic Director of Salisbury International Arts Festival:

“I worked with Kuljit Bhamra during my time as a consultant for spnm, of which he was Artistic Director, as well as with him as the Featured Artist at the 2009 Salisbury International Arts Festival.

Kuljit is a rare musician/producer/composer, because he brings both an exceptionally strong artist as well as audience focus to his work, and he does this with incredible ease. He is an excellent collaborator, happy and excited at engaging with a world of styles, ever-curious and open, which makes him great to work, securing consistently carefully honed and strong work. Given the quality, breadth and depth of his collaborations and work, ranging across Bhangra, film scores, classical tabla, jazz and much more, Kuljit’s work deserves to be more widely seen.

Ku-Da-Mix is an excellent example of Kuljit’s talents and provides an great window into his approach and the rich results this brings. The Arts Council’s support of this project in 2009 enabled us to programme the group into the Festival’s finale; without their support, the performance would not have been possible. The performance came at the end of a several-day residency with Kuljit, which included performances with silent film, at Stonehenge and with Andy Sheppard. It provided the perfect finale to a perfect residency.”

Stewart Collins, Artistic Director of Henley Festival:

“Henley Festival has enjoyed a special relationship with Khuljit Bhamra over the last few years, his extraordinary mix of bands and musical associations perfectly reflecting the festival’s own desire to present diverse musical styles and collaborations. The festival appearance by one of these combinations, Ku-da-mix, in 2009 was a real musical highlight of the festival, the group’s multi-faceted repertoire being both highly accessible to a non-specialist audience and ear-opening in terms of its blend of influences. I am a huge fan of this approach to contemporary music making and Ku-da-mix is exemplary in every way.”

Graeme Surtees, Head of Education at The Stables:

“We had a various parents and audience members comment positively about the project – how interesting the music mix was, confidence boosts to their children, sparking musical curiosity, great opportunity to play with superb musicians in a fantastic venue. “

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