A magical musical meeting of Raman’s enigmatic songs with ecstatic Sufi qawwali, a string quartet, orchestral percussion, and hypnotic grooves.

Queen Between takes an enigmatic look at imagination as expressed in language, poetry and music. The songs explore the elusive nature of reality or spiritual truth, and the universality of liminal states, ritual, and magical thinking. The cross-cultural, cross-genre musical exchange reflects themes of cultural exchange, migration, and transformation.

“wildly original, passionate and dangerous” – Guardian live review.

In the commissioned evening-length concert Queen Between, Susheela Raman and Sam Mills expand their collaboration with Rizwan Muazzam Qawwali, along with the Phaedra Ensemble string quartet and a western rhythm section.

Listen to the collaboration

About the artists

Susheela Raman is a British singer and recording artist. Born to Tamil parents in London her work has always involved connecting different cultural traditions. Known as a compelling live performer, Susheela has made a series of acclaimed albums beginning in 2001 with ‘Salt Rain’ which was shortlisted for the Mercury Music Prize in the UK and was a Gold Record in France. Since then she has pursued her own very personal line of work and collaborated with musicians from many backgrounds and released six studio albums and one live album. She is currently working with Javanese musicians on an album entitled ‘Ghost Gamelan’.

Rizwan and Muazzam Mujahid Ali Khan from Faisalabad, Pakistan are amongst the foremost exponents of the ecstatic Sufi singing style known as Qawali which originated in Sufi shrines in the Indian subcontinent. Their family tradition goes back several centuries and and they are themselves the nephews and pupils of the late Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, one of the greatest singers of the twentieth century in any tradition. They have been performing internationally since 1998 and have recorded for Real World Records. They are also known for their performances on Pakistan’s much-loved music program ‘Coke Studio’. Appearing with them is Rahat Ali on Harmonium and Vocals

Sam Mills is a British guitarist and producer. He started his musical journey with the postpunk experimental band 23 Skidoo and then, after a detour of studying Anthropology and living in Japan and South Asia, returned to music-making with the album ‘Real Sugar’ alongside Indian Singer Paban Das Baul on Peter Gabriel’s Real World record. He also worked with West African group Tama. Sam has a longstanding collaboration with Susheela Raman, both performing live and producing her albums. Sam is also director of the project called ‘Sacred Imaginations’ which is a platform for musicians to explore the place of transcendental music in the 21st century.

Malcolm Catto is a British drummer and producer. He is the co-founder and producer of the London psych /jazz experimental outfit the Heliocentrics. The Heliocentrics have release four albums and also collaborations with DJ Shadow, Mulatu Astatke and others. Marcom has also drums with many other projects and made a Solo album under the ‘Popcorn Bubblefish’. He has produced acts such as Family Antlantica and Vanishing Twin and runs a vintage analogue studio in Dalston, East London.

Dudley Philips plays Bass and Double Bass and is creative musician and composer living in London. He has worked all over the world with some very notable artists including Robert Wyatt, Bill Withers, June Tabor, Mark Knopfler and Amy Winehouse. Dudley also teaches Music at Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in Cardiff. His award winning band Perfect Houseplants made six albums. His own current recording project is called BassHeARTMANtra.

Lucie Antunes lives in Paris and is a drummer, a classically trained percussionist and a creative artist inner own right. She moves withe ease between the worlds of contemporary music and pop music. Lucie began to study a range of percussion at fourteen and within a few years she won many competitions and eventually graduated the Lyon Conservatoire, one of France’s top music academies. She developed and directed her own project ‘The Memories of Women’ and became a artist-in-residence at the Cité Des Arts in Paris. Lucie has also drummed with acclaimed French bands Aquaserge and Moodoid.

The Phaedra Ensemble explores the spaces between classical, experimental and contemporary music. Phaedra brings together some of London’s most exciting musicians, to curate programmes with new collaborations, reinterpretations of well-known modern works, and forgotten classics. Phaedra has a strong intuition for genre-crossing and interdisciplinary work, often in collaboration with artists from other disciplines. Phaedra includes:

Phillip Granell – Artistic Director and Violin
Phillip is a violinist and artistic director of Phaedra Ensemble based in London. Committed to playing across the musical spectrum and happy performing both composed and improvised music. As an orchestral player he has worked with The Ulster orchestra, Aurora, London Mozart players, English national ballet, London concert orchestra. In the studio he has recorded with Jamie Cullen, FourTet, Floating points, Bonobo, The F-re collective, blue note recordings and for TV and film. He has been broadcast live on BBC Radio 1,3,4 and 6 as well as BBC Ulster and performed at King’s place, The Barbican, Cafe Oto and the Royal Albert Hall with Bjork. As a teacher and educator he held a associate lecturer position at the University of Chichester from 2010-2015 where he coached chamber music, lectured on world music and taught violin. He runs improvisation workshops for non-improvisers and is passionate about its benefits.

Richard Jones – Viola
Richard is a Bristol-born violist now based in London. He is a founding member of the Ligeti Quartet and the Octandre Ensemble and performs regularly with both groups at venues including Purcell Room, St John’s Smith Square and Wigmore Hall. He is a versatile performer, interested in experimental music and collaborations with artists outside of classical genres, as well as traditional repertoire. He has credits on a wide range of soundtracks including the 2012 BAFTA-nominated film Black Pond and has made numerous TV appearances including Later with Jools Holland. In additional to his performance work, Richard maintains a keen interest in music education. He is a lead tutor for London Music Masters Bridge Project for which he also acts as mentor on the Royal Academy of Music’s ‘Excellence in Group Teaching’ programme. He studied music at York University where he also focused on composition and was awarded the David Blake prize.

Laura Moody – Cello
Laura Moody is a cellist, vocalist, songwriter, composer and theatre performer. In her solo work Laura draws on the infinite possibilities available from her solo cello and voice to create emotive songs that inhabit a unique space between the avant garde, classical music, pop and singer-songwriter tradition. In November 2014 she released her debut solo album Acrobats to major critical plaudits. She has since toured the album extensively in the UK and to major festivals. Other recent works include Medium for vocalising string quartet, which was commissioned by Phaedra Ensemble, and award nominated scores for dreamplay at The Vaults Theatre and Mary Rose for BBC Radio 3. She is an Open Space Artist in Residence at Snape Maltings where she has been collaborating with the sound artist Clay Gold. Parallelist, their new music theatre work dealing with theories of consciousness, premiered at this year’s Aldeburgh Festival. Having achieved much international acclaim as a long-standing member of innovative string quartet the Elysian Quartet, known for it’s pioneering performances and recordings of contemporary classical, experimental and improvised music, other artists she has worked and performed with include Bjork, Meredith Monk, Anna Calvi, Aphex Twin, Antony and the Johnsons, Peter Gabriel, David Sylvian, Kate Tempest, Hot Chip, The XX, and Imogen Heap.

Emma Smith – Violin
Emma founded and led the experimental string quartet, The Elysian Quartet. Together they played in a multitude of diverse scenarios across the globe: concert halls, theatres, sweaty clubs, a volcano, helicopters, wild meadows, beaches, fire sculptures, forests and once in a barn being dive bombed by bats.They have worked with Meredith Monk, Keith Tippett, Lau and Kate Tempest to name a few. Emma has also recorded and toured on violin, bass guitar, clarinet and vocals with many groups, including: Mercury nominees Basquiat Strings, Imogen Heap, James Yorkston, Kate Tempest, Jon Hopkins, Hot Chip, Meilyr Jones, Bonobo, Serafina Steer, Badly Drawn Boy, David Holmes and her own band, Geese.