Photography: Laura Lewis

Musician and Composer Anoushka Shankar Announced as Guest Director for Brighton Festival 2025

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The critically-acclaimed sitarist, composer and activist returns to Brighton Festival, this time as Guest Director!

I have loved the beauty, energy and eclecticism of Brighton since I was a teenager and I’m elated to now have the chance to get involved in programming Brighton Festival’

We are delighted to reveal Grammy-nominated classical and contemporary musician, composer and activist Anoushka Shankar will be our Guest Director for 2025, following in the footsteps of Anish Kapoor, Kae Tempest, Lemn Sissay OBE and Laurie Anderson.

Photography: Laura Lewis

A Music Industry Trailblazer

With nine Grammy nominations under her belt, Anoushka’s many accomplishments include several firsts: she was the first Indian musician to perform live and present at the Grammys and the first Indian woman to be nominated.

She was also the youngest and first female recipient of a British House of Commons Shield, recognising her as a leading musician of the Asian arts, and one of the first female composers to become part of the UK’s A-level music syllabus.

With over 25 years of performing behind her, Anoushka is a truly genre-defying artist spanning the worlds of classical, contemporary, acoustic and electronic music. 

Anoushka says:

“It brings me so much pride and joy to have been invited to be Brighton Festival’s Guest Director for the 2025 Season. I have loved the beauty, energy and eclecticism of Brighton since I was a teenager and was thrilled to play Brighton Festival myself a couple of years ago. I’m elated to now have the chance to get involved in programming a festival of diverse and cross-pollenating art forms from around the globe. It’s my hope that the artists involved in the festival can draw on their skills and heritages past and present to share perspectives on new ways forward across all areas of our lives, our challenges, and our dreams.”

From Stage To Screen

Anoushka began studying the sitar and Indian classical music at the age of nine under the invaluable guidance of her father, legendary sitar master Pandit Ravi Shankar. Making her professional debut at 13, she began touring worldwide, embarking on a successful solo touring career at 18 and becoming known for her virtuosic and emotional playing style.

Performing in venues from legendary jazz cafes to iconic symphony halls to large-scale festival stages, Anoushka has collaborated with the likes of Patti Smith, Sting and His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

She has also composed for cinema, scoring the British Film Institute’s restoration of Shiraz, one of the first major Indian silent feature films, and co-composing the soundtrack to Mira Nair’s A Suitable Boy.

A Force For Good

Known for her activism, Anoushka has been outspoken about her experiences as a woman and a survivor of child abuse, supporting campaigns such as One Billion Rising which aims to end violence against women and girls, and frequently working with organisations like the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Help Refugees and The Walk. She is also the inaugural President of the F-List - a UK database created to help bridge the gender gap in music.

Dates For The Diary

Anoushka will be Brighton Festival’s 16th Guest Director, following in the footsteps of this year’s award-winning author and screenwriter, Frank Cottrell-Boyce. She will collaborate with the Brighton Festival programming team to develop a diverse and inclusive programme of events, which will be revealed at the official launch in February. Keep your eyes peeled!

Brighton Festival 2025 will take place from Saturday 3 - Sunday 25 May.

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