EVENT Want to listen to 12th century spiritual poetry in contemporary avatar? Head to Alliance Francaise this weekend

The Vachana Band has been performing vachanas, spiritual poetry in Kannada from the 12th Century, in a contemporary band setting.

The poems of the vachanakaras shine with their intense life experience. They are the lyrical outpourings of not just Basavanna or the Akka Mahadevi, but also of wise people plying a variety of small trades.

The vachanas are generally not written to conventional metre as the poetry of Haridasa or Purandaradasa, which is why they are not so frequently sung. The verses are protestant in tone, and question not just poetic conventions but also accepted beliefs and practices, say the band members.

The Vachana Band’s tunes draw from Indian folk and popular styles. It has performed half a dozen times live, and has been featured on Radio One. The band is collaborating with Neecia Majolly, the well-known singer and pianist, for the first time. Neecia is the founder-trustee of the Majolly Music Trust. She teaches Western classical music. On the play list are vachanas by Basavanna, Allama Prabhu, Akka Mahadevi and Soole Sankavva. This experimental hour-long concert features Neecia, who sings some of the vachanas in English, and her talented choir. The line-up includes Supriya Acharya (vocal), Ram (harmonium), Pramath Kiran (percussion), Dominic D Cruz (guitar) and Sudhakar J. Doraiswamy (flute). The concert is at Alliance Francaise on July 20 at 7 p.m. Entry is free.