Looking back

Buta Festival of Azerbaijani Arts. London. Nov 2009 — Mar 2010.

When Buta held its first London festival, a 100-day celebration of Azerbaijani culture from November 2009 to March 2010, it was destined to break new ground for the organisation. In the five years of Buta’s existence this was the most ambitious project yet, an extended project on an international scale.

Yet there were plenty of opening night nerves. Azerbaijan, for all its long history, was little known to London audiences. Decades of isolation as part of the USSR meant that for many in England the closest connection they had to Azerbaijan was the memory of Tofiq Bakhramov, the so-called ‘Russian linesman’ from Baku who awarded England’s vital third goal in the 1966 World Cup final.

So the festival had to start from scratch to introduce Britain to the rich cultural and culinary traditions of a country that was bursting out from behind the Iron Curtain and looking to take its place in the world.

A top-notch programme of internationally acclaimed talent brought music, art, photography and poetry to the galleries and concert halls of the capital.

Buta’s first full-scale international festival ended on a triumphant note with a gala concert at the Royal Festival Hall, having garnered media attention from publications across the UK and beyond.


Opening of the Festival

Queen Elizabeth Hall,
Southbank Centre

An exotic jazz-mugham fusion from a rising international star and Montreaux laureate Shahin Novrasli and his quintet

Shahin Novrasli (piano) 
Alexander Mashin (drums) 
Nathan Peck (double-bass) 
Nurlan Novrasli (kamancha) 
Arslan Novrasli (tar) 

Special guest:
Iain Ballamy (sax)

Festival launch report


St Martin-in-the-Fields

Part Indian raga, part muezzin’s call, yet wholly and distinctively Azerbaijani, mugham is the song of the nation

Arslan Novrasli (tar)
Arzu Aliyeva (khananda)
Aydin Yahaev (balaban)
Ebulfaz Deriahi (khananda)
Ehtiram Huseynov (khananda)
Elshen Mansurov (kamancha)
Emin Eliyev (nagara)
Kamal Nuriyev (ud, tar)
Nurlan Novrasli (kamancha)
Revan Gachayev (khananda) – a child of 11 years old

Discover how sounds the Mugham
under the arches of a landmark church in the heart of London.

More about Mugham Londoners were able to learn from the Jeffery Werbock’s lecture and performance on Mugham at Pushkin House, London.
28 January 2010.



Masterpieces from a visionary artist Tair Salakhov, who bravely introduced modernism to the USSR. Works from this collection have never been presented in London before.

Ave Maria concert

St Martin-in-the-Fields

Christianity and Islam, East meets West. A concert devoted to the dialogue of the religions, performed in the most popular Christian church St Martin-in-the-Fields.

This concert contrasts different interpretations of
the theme from all corners of the world. From Azerbaijan, Baku Music Academy Director Farhad Badalbeyli’s “Ave Maria” is performed by sopranos Maria Kuleshova (Russia) and Burcin Savigne (Turkey) and pianist Murad Huseyn accompanied by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.
Italian composer Astor Piazzolla’s popular modern version of the text also features along with the famous settings by J.S. Bach and Franz Schubert.

The evening was rounded off by music from Europe’s Age
of Enlightenment, with the RPO, conducted by Timothy Henty (Great Britain) and violinist Schlomo Mintz.

The real diamond of Azerbaijani musical scene
and good friend of Buta — Murad Huseynov at Ave Maria Concert

Black January discussion

King’s College London

Discussion about the Black January and its role in the collapse of the USSR.

Screening of the episodes of Andrey Konchalovsky’s documentary “Heydar Aliyev”

Nigar Hasan-Zadeh reads a poem – tribute to the victims of the Black January.
Nigar is rated by the British Library among the top 10 foreign poets currently based in London.

Azerbaijani classical music performances
by Nazrin Rashidova (violin) and Nezrine Efendiyeva (piano)

Moderator of the evening – Dr. Stephen Lovell – reader in Modern European History, King’s College London.

Gara Garayev concert

Cadogan Hall

The renowned violinist Gidon Kremer and conductor Christopher Warren-Green joined by Royal Philharmonic Orchestra lead a tour through the musical world of Azerbaijan’s leading composer Gara Garayev.

Closing Gala Concert

Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Dmitry Sitkovetsky (conductor)
Shlomo Mintz (violin)
Joan Rodgers (solo)
Jeffrey Lloyd Roberts (solo)
Arslan Novrasli (tar)
Kamal Nuriyev (ud)
Revan Gachayev (khananda) — a child of 11 years old

Watch the short film about Gala Concert

The festival attracted major attention not only of common Londoners, but of the art critics, entrepreneurs, journalists, sponsors and politicians.

David Lidington, Great Britain Minister of State for Europe, in his speech in Azerbaijan University of Languages said:

Last year’s Buta Festival of Azerbaijani Culture in London had a tremendous impact, further raising knowledge of and interest in your country’s culture”.

The stage was already set for part two…

Buta Festival of Azerbaijani Arts

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