Zakir Hussain and the Symphony Orchestra of India

The Symphony Orchestra of India begin their UK tour in Birmingham and are joined by Tabla virtuoso Zakir Hussain.

The Town Hall Symphony Hall team host a media lunch at Opheem. Jas Sansi joins Zakir and conductor Zane Dalal for a meal orchestrated by our very own Aktar Islam. 

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First up, how many of you reading this knew India had a Symphony Orchestra? When I was contacted by Town Hall Symphony Hall (THSH) to photograph lunch with their conductor, my first reaction was ‘What?’


The Symphony Orchestra of India (SOI) was formed in 2006. It is the first, and remains, only professional western orchestra in India. SOI is based in Mumbai, it includes 26 nationalities including nine Brits. 


15 of the 89 players are Indian. A training programme has been established to identify and steer what conductor Zane Dalal explained over lunch ‘the most talented individuals in India.’ 

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Zakir Hussain and Zane Dalal

There are so many questions about the existence of a Symphony Orchestra in India.  Last night’s performance in Symphony Hall was mesmerising. My family is of Indian origin, and listening to them made me feel incredibly proud.


The collaboration with Zakir Hussain demonstrates the SOI are an orchestra without walls. Diverse in their make up and unafraid of exploring new grounds. 

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If you have never seen an Orchestra perform live, consider this; you witness a finely tuned gathering of dedicated professionals under the leadership of a conductor communicating, through music, the message of a composer. The output is sound, but what you can only experience live is the physical co-operative action of the players.

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If you’re an engineer and you want to understand how the mechanics of an industrial machine should operate, go see an Orchestra. 

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If you’re a Business Leader, go see an Orchestra and witness how a team, under the right leadership, can produce magic. If you’re a Restauranteur, go see an Orchestra and recognise the processes that produce world class restaurants like Aktar Islam’s Opheem. 


Go and see the Symphony Orchestra of India, details of their UK Tour can be found here:

Opheem are finalists in GQ Restaurant of the Year, website link:

Birmingham Town Hall & Symphony Hall; two world-class concert halls connecting people to music through inspiring live events:

Jas Sansi is a freelance photographer based in Birmingham, a trustee for LoveBrum and contributor to The Asian Today newspaper.

@jassansi 07930 837 505

LoveBrum Turns 4

LoveBrum welcome guests, members, ambassadors and friends to Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery to celebrate the charity’s 4th birthday proudly sponsored by Tank Top. 


Figures are yet to be confirmed but I suspect 2018 saw Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery smash the ceiling of one Million visitors. Over 250,000 came to see Dippy the Dinosaur who spent summer in Brum as part of a national UK tour. Brum knows how to put on a big event. 


Here’s four reasons, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery deserve your attention right now;

  1. The Leonardo Da Vinci exhibition ‘A Life in Drawing’,
  2. ‘Women Power Protest’  
  3. The Edwardian Tearooms
  4. The Lucifer Sculpture by Jacob Epstein in the Round Room. Ironically just a few steps up from Paradise.  


LoveBrum were joined by 200 guests to mark the charity’s fourth birthday. LoveBrum has come a long way in a very short time. In a recent strategy meeting, trustees painted a picture (literally) of where we want to be in 5, 10 and 20 years.

It would have been a very ambitious soul to have predicted the achievements so far. It certainly warrants a celebration.


Co-founders of LoveBrum PJ Ellis and Tim Andrews welcomed guests thanking them for supporting the charity as it comes of age.

LoveBrum’s Chairman Tim Andrews shared his pride in ‘the level of engagement we are now achieving…with so many Brummies celebrating the change and pulling together to make that change.’ 

PJ Ellis tweeted from the event ‘An amazing turnout for LoveBrum’s 4th birthday bash. To say I’m humbled by the support we have received over the last 4-5 years is an understatement. Birmingham, be proud. You are full of some amazing people.’


Vice Chair Rebecca Simkiss announced the launch of Membership March; individuals who introduce the highest number of new members to LoveBrum have the opportunity to win some amazing prizes.


Thank you to Julia’s Cake Co for providing us with this amazing cake. Please give them a follow on Twitter @JuliasCakeCo 


Many thanks to Glenn Richardson (below left) doing his magic with his Photo Booth. Glenn’s website is


Thank you to everyone who supplied Raffle Prizes. Award winning Networker Henrik Court won a night at Holiday Inn Express at Snow Hill and immediately auctioned it raising an additional £60 on the night contributing to a total of £773.16. Fabulous. 


Editor in Chief of The Asian Today, Ifraz Ahmed won a beauty treatment. Look out for the Anjum’s Butler cartoon on this one. 


Huge thanks to everyone who came along last night to make the birthday celebrations a great success. We appreciate you all giving up your time and hope you had a fabulous night in the museum. 


The full set of images:

For more information about LoveBrum:


Jas Sansi is a freelance photographer based in Birmingham, a trustee for LoveBrum and contributor for The Asian Today newspaper.

@jassansi 07930 837 505

The Italian Master in Brum

Jas Sansi photographs the launch of the Leonardo Da Vinci Exhibition at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery.

Drop your pencils, pens and paper and go see it before we bid ciao to the Renaissance Man on May 6th. 


Birmingham is the Events City, there’s a lot going on a, a lot of the time. A city like ours has the gravitas to attract the great and the good, secure in the knowledge its citizens and those from the region will appreciate the opportunity to witness something extraordinary. 


Last Thursday saw the preview of ‘A Life in Drawing’ by the Italian Master Leonardo Da Vinci at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery. It is extraordinary.

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The drawings form part of the Royal Collection, and are on public display to commemorate the 500th Anniversary of Leonardo Da Vinci’s death in 1519. 


They are mesmerising and I encourage everyone to go see them. The drawings are usually stored, out of sight, away from the harsh effects of light and oxygen. This a rare opportunity to enjoy them in all their glory.


The Exhibition is free to attend but donations are always welcome to support the work carried out by the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery.


Da Vinci is recognised as one of the most gifted people who ever walked this earth. If you have never seen any of his work, begin your journey at Birmingham.


The drawings are on display until 6th May. There is a book available to purchase of the Da Vinci drawings for £9.95 available in the Museum gift shop. Pick one up and Enjoy it over a coffee in the Edwardian Tearooms.


An incredible way to spend a few hours inside, away from the winter weather.


Leonardo Da Vince ‘A Life in Drawing’ is exhibiting at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery from 1 February to 6 May 2019.

Chamberlain Square, Birmingham B3 3DH   0121 348 8000

Free Entry (Donations Welcome)




Jas Sansi is a freelance photographer based in Birmingham @jassansi 07930 837 505, a Trustee for LoveBrum and contributor to The Asian Today newspaper.


Signature Awards 2019

Jas Sansi photographs The Signature Awards 2019 at ICC Birmingham and reflects on the key message shared by Ninder Johal. 


There are companies who embrace diversity and understand the value in drawing down from a broad church of ideas. For others, the comforts of a familiar face, background and culture continue to be the default option.

It’s unproductive to criticise taking the easier option. Organisations rarely change because of external pressures. Better to channel the energy of disappointment to exploit new opportunities. 

Necessity not external pressure forges change; here in the UK, we are witnessing full employment. The uncertainty in our future relationship with Europe may be discouraging worker bees from exploring new hives. The decision to Brexit has seen EU nationals transfer their skills to other countries.


Companies who wish to scale up their operations have consequently less human resource to tap into. Great for wage inflation, not so great for corporate ambition. 

The necessity to think bigger and search wider in finding people to grow companies, throws a spotlight on the opportunities diversity offers.


The Suffragettes marched Gender Equality to the gates of social change but it was the necessity of tapping into female workers during the World Wars that smashed those gates open. Allies fought fascism and were rewarded with enlightenment on the role of women in a post industrial world. Smashed gates never close.


Diversity has been an aspiration for decades. The UK has championed the march of BAME Entrepreneurs as one of cornerstones of modern British success. Again this has been necessity rather than choice; if those Black and Asian entrepreneurs were given opportunities to grow early in their careers, they may not have heard the call of Enterprise and Self Employment nor would they have been tempted to explore new employment markets in North America. 


This was my take from the Signature Awards hosted by Ninder Johal addressing a sold out Hall 4 at Birmingham ICC aided by the Brilliant Maharajah of Mayhem Tommy Sandhu.


Ninder Johal has grown the annual celebration of our region’s business success stories to mature into a must attend event. He called on the business community to recognise there is a smaller pool of talent available because of Brexit and full employment, and to go beyond their comfort zones in providing opportunities to inject fresh ideas. 


Signature Awards isn’t Black success, White success or Asian Success, its Business Success. There is value in having the attention of 550 business people; today and tomorrow’s leaders and urging them to harvest different fields whether its from White Working Class communities or the Muslim community. These are fields of gold. 


The future battles in business are not mechanical, the robots are already here, automation has evolved from production lines and conveyor belts to become an art form of just in time logistics and elegant efficient satisfaction of supply and demand. 


This is why Brexit means so much more than Brexit. Anyone can exit a relationship, all it takes is harsh words and a door, but how do you exit a complex integrated relationship developed over five decades that has shaped the fabric of our country? The simple answer is you can’t nor should you even try to.


The future battles will be in ideas and creativity. Key Note speak Piers Linney from BBC Dragons’ Den alluded to this. Piers explained the difference between machines and humans is our ability to think creatively.


You can program an algorithm into software, Trillion dollar corporations like Amazon demonstrate the value of doing so. But ultimately, each of the products they move around the planet via truck, van or drone evolved from a human idea or conversation. Diversity of ideas and conversations will shape the next wave of UK success stories.


Thank you to everyone who made the night an incredible success especially the Sponsors without whom events such as these would be very difficult to deliver.


Congratulations to all finalists and winners in this year’s Signature Awards.


A personal highlight for me was the House of Commons Whisky bottle signed by Prime Minister Theresa May and Opposition Leader Jeremy Corbyn. In a week where the two struggled to sit opposite each other to thrash out a Brexit solution, their joint signatures raised £1050 fund matched by Barclays raising £2100 for Acorns Hospice contributing to a total (yet to be confirmed) for the much loved Charity headed up by Toby Porter. 


Congratulations to my very good friend Ninder Johal who was appointed Deputy Lieutenant of the West Midlands, announced by John Crabtree during his welcome speech. 


The Signature Awards will be back in 2020, until then, the memories from this year are signed, sealed and delivered. 


Complete list of the Signature Awards 2019 winners: 

Excellence in Finance (Individual) – Damon Walford (Thin Cats) and Paul Kalinauckas (BCRS Loans)

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Excellence in Law – Kulraj Dassaur

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Excellence in Finance (Organisation) – Clydesdale & Yorkshire Bank Plc

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Excellence in Legal Services – Veale Wasbrough Vizards LLP

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Excellence in Real Estate – Bahram Parinchy (Pro Build 360)

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Excellence in the Owner Practice for the Professions – JM Wilson Solicitors

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International / Innovation / Enterprise of the Year – Microfresh

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Small Business of the Year – KMB Shipping Group

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Business Person of the Year – Manjeet Rai

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Excellence in Diversity & Inclusion – Turner Townsend

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Entrepreneur of the Year – James Tark

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Excellence in Promoting Apprenticeships – Total Training Company

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Highly Commended Companies Recognised by Signature Awards 2019


Business of the Year – The Staffing Group

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Jas Sansi is a freelance photographer based in Birmingham @jassansi 07930 837 505, a Diversity and Equality Trustee for LoveBrum and Columnist for The Asian Today newspaper.

Full set of images from Signature Awards 2019 can be seen at: