The Southbank Centre plays host to two wonderful and talented groups of musicians who are heavily influenced by the Eastern Carnatic style of music. Carnatic Strings is split into two halves, separating these two very different Carnatic groups.

The first recital is by the Madras String Quartet. Originating from southern India, it is made up of VS Narasimhan on first violin, Mohan Rao on second violin, K Sasikumar on viola and VR Sekar on cello. In perfect unison throughout, they treat us to beautifully synchronised classical arrangements with influences of south Indian sounds underlying effortlessly throughout their playing. The quartet seamlessly combines Indian classical compositions with western harmonic principles. After the first two compositions, both of which are equally atmospheric and charming, they set the theme and structure for the rest of the evening. It is about combining two cultures, the East and West coming together in a marriage of music.

Even for someone who is not an expert when it comes to strings recitals, I would challenge anyone not to appreciate the intricacy and complexity of what was offered to me. Narasimhan, who is also the founder of the Madras String Quartet, performs with such precision it looks easy, and yet the difficulty of his self-prepared pieces is overwhelming and impressive. Their eight arrangements were elegant, elaborate and perfectly executed by this talented quartet. For an hour these four men and their bows transported their audience far away from the bustling streets of Central London to a peaceful and calming surround.

The second half of the recital is by Raga Garage featuring Jyotsna Srikanth, a spectacularly talented classical Carnatic violinist and ex-pupil of Vs Narasimhan. She is joined by Shadrach Solomon as pianist, a percussionist and Robert Atchison, the first violinist of London’s West End’s The Lion King. They describe themselves as “a melting-pot of Indian and European classical influences”. Their first composition is immediately engaging and, although the essential principles and intentions are the same as the Madras String Quartet, these two groups could not have been more contrasting in style and delivery. Powerful and dramatic, these arrangements took us through Irish folk tunes that got the audience clapping along, to funky Carnatic takes on the classics. We really saw two cultures twisted together, sitting side by side in perfect harmony.

This was a marvellous evening full of outstanding talent, overwhelming dedication and beautiful music.

Carnatic Strings played at the Southbank Centre on 21 July. For more information, see the Southbank Centre website. Photo: Southbank Centre.