Sacred Sounds tells some of the stories of the Indian combatants and non-combatants, of whom there were over one million, who participated inWorldWar One, often displaying great courage in the face of danger. Just under 100,000 of these were Sikhs. Inspired by an evocative photograph of Sikh soldiers performing Gurbani Kirtan or Shabads (Sikh sacred hymns) in a French barn, this live concert showcases the music that these soldiers took with them to camp and battlefield.


The concert explores some of the many narratives of this period – the timeless and transcendent beauty of the Shabads themselves, originally composed by Guru Nanak (1469- 1539) the founder of the Sikh faith; the power of the letters, exchanged between Sikh soldiers and their families and the vivid individual stories they tell; the forthright and often anguished voices of the women of the Punjab through fragments of folk ballads – including a mother’s lament for a departing son; the brusque recruitment songs that the British commissioned as well as new spoken word elements.

Sacred Sounds is further brought to life by award-winning writer, artist and film-maker Imtiaz Dharker’s vivid poetry and images, enhanced by Jack Lockhart’s animation. A cinematic backdrop of images promises to make this a thought provoking and memorable experience. Sacred Sounds will be launched at the Royal Armouries in Leeds before embarking on its national tour.

Pilot Performance

Sacred Sounds trailer