A SITARIST and composer will be joined by the Orchestra of Opera North in Durham Cathedral next month.

Jasdeep Singh Degun, who is based in Leeds, will be performing his new sitar concerto, Arya, on Thursday, March 5, at 7.30pm.

He is looking forward to realising a long-held ambition to bring traditional Indian music to a western symphony orchestra.

He said: “Arya is a Sanskrit word meaning noble, or precious – as well as being a girl’s name, which has been popularised now in the west by Arya Stark in Game of Thrones.

“I’d always been interested in writing a concerto for sitar and orchestra. I’ve written for small ensembles and larger Indian classical orchestras, but never for a full symphony orchestra, so Arya has been a steep learning curve for me.

"Working with the Orchestra of Opera North and their brilliant arranger Danny Saleeb has been a collaborative process, and it's given me the tools to get my vision across completely."

He said that combining the elements of Indian music and western classical orchestra provided an interesting challenge.

“In Indian classical music, we have a limited concept of harmony and there aren’t any key changes; there’s one drone that doesn't shift for the whole concert. And ours is an oral tradition, mostly improvised – we don’t have sheets of paper in front of us.

“It's completely the opposite with a western classical orchestra, which is trained to perform exactly what the composer has written down on the stave. And within a western concerto, harmony is a key feature of creativity.

“At the beginning of the piece the sitar is introduced to the Orchestra, and we follow the instrument like a diamond, a shining light, through this new world of western music.

“The second movement is faster, and the orchestra starts to take over: it’s new territory for the sitar. Then in the third movement the two worlds come together and find common ground."

Gem Arts, who are partners for this concert, have a great history of bringing different musical traditions and audiences together in the region.

He said: The Cathedral itself is an incredible space, and being a huge Harry Potter fan it’ll be an extra buzz to see part of Hogwarts and Professor McGonagall’s classroom.”

To complete the programme at Durham Cathedral, the Orchestra of Opera North will be joined by the the company’s Chorus for a series of excerpts from operas including Madama Butterfly, La traviata and The Magic Flute – making for a unique evening of sounds from east and west.

Tickets, priced at £18 (£150 concessions), can be booked online at galadurham.co.uk or at the Box Office on 03000 266 600.