THE National Centre for Early Music will be home to a restful, tranquil and immersive musical experience to delight all ages in York on Tuesday.

That night, Manasamitra, Dewsbury's South Indian arts organisation, invites music lovers to Lullaby – Sonic Cradle, a contemporary musical exploration of nocturnal sounds interspersed with lullabies and soothing songs from India.

Inspired by songs sung by Indian women to their babies while working in the fields, the Lullaby project has been created through collaborations involving local communities, professional musicians and technology.

Already, Lullaby– Sonic Cradle has travelled across Britain, Europe, Scandinavia and Australia. Now, led by Manasamitra founder, artistic director and soprano singer Supriya Nagarajan, Lullaby comes to York as part of a national tour funded by Arts Council England, bringing together the NCEM, Manasamitra, York community choirs and audio recordings of the city.

Supriya will be joined at Tuesday's concert by York multi-instrumentalist James Cave, on piano and cello, Belgian flautist Karin De Fleyt and composer Duncan Chapman, who provides the electronic soundscape.

As a host venue for Lullaby, the NCEM held a residency to create the community's audio installation unique to York, working the Cuppa & Chorus choral group and the Stonegate Singers, as well as recording the York Minster bells and the River Ouse at night.

"That's why it's a 'Sonic Cradle'," says Supriya. "Elsewhere for Lullaby, we've recorded the sound of insects, the sea, bats at night in Yorkshire."

Supriya studied Carnatic vocal music from the age of five and now performs this Southern Indian form of singing in Britain, Europe, India, Thailand and Cambodia.

She has worked with artists from other genres to create new musical vocabularies, constantly stretching boundaries through collaboration, such as her upcoming jazz-infused, meditative Shivoham album with saxophonist Ben Castle.

Elsewhere, she has been commissioned to create musical responses to artists Andy Goldsworthy, David Nash and others exhibiting at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, near Wakefield, and worked closely with a Cultural Olympiad project, Stanza Stones, when exploring the Yorkshire Moors, the poetry of Simon Armitage and Indian classical music.

Born in Mumbai, but living in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, since 2004, Supriya left her job as an accountant after 20 years to focus on music, setting up Manasamitra in 2005.

"I come from a family of accountants; that was my education and when I moved to Britain, I worked as an accountant, but I always continued to practise and sing my music at every opportunity, and continued my training," she says.

"Singing was the main thing, and originally I was more interested in performing, but now it's 50-50 composing and performing."

Inspiration for these compositions comes from "life itself", she reveals. "I do a lot of travelling with my music, and when I have a question in my heart, finding answers is what interests me," says Supriya, on the phone from Geneva, where she was working on a project for 2021.

Now she wants to raise the profile of BAME – black, Asian and minority ethnic – composers in Britain, especially of Asian female composers.

""This Lullaby project has come at a very timely juncture in my career as I'm able to give back a little," she says. "I'm in a happy place musically, travelling across Europe, working locally too, and receiving a £10,000 Develop Your Creative Practice grant from Arts Council England specifically to support my drive to set up a platform for aspiring South Asian composers, helping them to interact with the mainstream."

Meanwhile, back to the soothing capacities of lullabies, as Supriya says: "One of the questions we ask is whether it's the mother's voice, the lullaby itself or the emotional bond that helps to send a child to sleep, and that's a question I'm now pursuing with a couple of neuro-scientists internationally."

Rest assured, lullabies can send you to sleep in any language, whether they are Carnatic lullabies, in Hindi, or Portuguese, or from anywhere across Scandinavia, as can be heard at Tuesday's concert, but do try to stay awake.

Lullaby – Sonic Cradle: Showcase, National Centre for Early Music, York, May 21, 7.30pm. Tickets: £5, concessions £3, on 01904 658338 or at

Charles Hutchinson