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Notes on Compassion: Words, Music and Us

Sun 25 Jun 2023, 8pm
Part of Refugee Week
Queen Elizabeth Hall
Literature & poetry
From £10
past event
past event
Soumik Datta plays a Sarod lit by blue lights.

Marking the 25th year of Refugee Week, an evening of music and spoken word hosted by comedian Fatiha El-Ghorri responds to this year’s theme, Compassion.

There are performances from AWATE, Soumik Datta, FaceSoul, Vanessa Kisuule, Kaia Laurielle, Rachel Long, Momtaza Mehri and Sukina Noor, and an original choral performance from Woven Gold, hosted by Fatiha El-Ghorri.

We’re bringing together poets and musicians to share their responses on Compassion, helping us create a safe, shared space to unpick what it means today and how we can extend compassion beyond our own networks.

Do we live in times where acting with compassion may feel like a radical act? How can we grow compassion by doing small, everyday acts that have potential to affect and support people outside our immediate circles of friends and family?

Underneath Fatiha El-Ghorri's colourful hijab is a mind full of cutting observations and engaging witticism of the life and times of a British Muslim woman. By sharing stories of her own experiences – which are funny, thought-provoking and honest – El-Ghorri smashes the Muslim stereotypes and challenges people to reconsider what they know about Islam, Muslims and Muslim women especially.

AWATE is a rapper, writer, producer and performer focused on stories at the intersection of race, class and surrealism – with a dose of humour. Happiness, his debut album, was released in 2018.

Winner of the Aga Khan Music Award, Soumik Datta is a visionary musician with the ability to cross boundaries, cultures and art forms. Called ‘One of the biggest new music talents in Britain’ by Vogue, Datta is a sarod virtuoso, composer and Artistic Director of the Soumik Datta Arts charity, and his work pushes the limits of Indian classical music to address the urgent issues of our times. Tonight he performs an extract of touring project Hope Notes, which combines refugee stories with sarod, strings and electronica. The critically acclaimed work was commissioned by the Southbank Centre to raise awareness about displacement and refugee mental health issues.

Faisal Salah, known by his stage name FaceSoul, is a London-based artist born in East Africa. At 19 he began travelling the world, performing for different communities. He combines his love of singing, poetry and storytelling with his Islamic roots, bringing his spirituality to his practice.

Vanessa Kisuule is a writer and performer based in Bristol who’s won numerous slam titles, appeared at an array of literary and music festivals and was Glastonbury Festival's Resident Poet in 2019.

Kaia Laurielle is a singer/songwriter from south-east London whose music is a blend of electronic, alternative soul and R&B. As a champion for Black love, her lyrics tell the stories of those forgotten or overshadowed.

Rachel Long is a poet and the founder of Octavia – Poetry Collective for Women of Colour, which is housed at the Southbank Centre. She has been shortlisted for Young People’s Laureate for London and was awarded a Jerwood/Arvon Foundation mentorship.

Momtaza Mehri is a poet and independent researcher working across criticism, translation, anti-disciplinary research practices, education and radio. She is a former Young People’s Poet Laureate for London and Frontier-Antioch Fellow.

Sukina Noor is a poet, spoken-word artist, playwright, workshop facilitator and educator, artistic curator, writer and public speaker. She has toured extensively across the UK, Europe, America and Africa.

Woven Gold is a choir of refugees and asylum seekers from around the world which performs original songs and music written together, or traditional music from their own countries, led by professional musicians.

Need to know

Please note that haze is used during this event.

Dates & times

Sun 25 Jun 2023, 8pm
Approximate run time: 1 hour 30 mins.
Run times may vary by up to 20 minutes as they can be affected by last-minute programme changes, intervals and encores.


  • Standard entryFrom £10*
  • Concessions25%**

* Excludes £3.50 booking fee.

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** Limited availability. Read about concessions.

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An accessible toilet is located in the foyer.

A Changing Places toilet is located on Level 1 Royal Festival Hall next to the JCB Glass Lift, for the exclusive use of disabled people who need personal assistance to use the toilet.

The facility includes a height-adjustable bench, tracking hoist system, a centrally-placed toilet, a height-adjustable basin and a shower. The phone outside the Changing Places toilet will connect you with a member of staff, who can provide you with the key. The facility is open daily 10am – 11pm.


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For step-free access from the Queen Elizabeth Hall Slip Road off Belvedere Road to the Queen Elizabeth Hall auditorium seating (excluding rows A to C) and wheelchair spaces in the Rear Stalls, plus Queen Elizabeth Hall Foyer and the Purcell Room, please use the Queen Elizabeth Hall main entrance.

To reach this entrance, enter the Royal Festival Hall via the Southbank Centre Square Doors. Take the JCB Glass Lift to Level 2 and exit to the Riverside Terrace. Turn right to find the Queen Elizabeth Hall main entrance.

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