Interview: FestivalAsia organiser Li Li

On 15-17 May 2015, FestivalAsia will offer visitors the chance to experience the diverse culture of all Asian countries under one roof. Taking place indoors at London’s Tobacco Dock, the event will feature music and dance performances on the main stage, martial arts demonstrations, a ‘Culture Room’ where companies and ambassadors can present on topics such as business and travel, a ‘Spiritual Room’, workshops and many other exiting activities for the whole family to enjoy.

A multitude of exhibitors will also offer all kinds of goods for sale – such as handicrafts, jewellery and clothes – while a food court will serve up delicious mouth-watering Asian grub to satisfy the palette.

MyM’s Spencer Lloyd Peet caught up with FestivalAsia co-founder and organiser, Li Li, a professional soprano singer born in China but now living in the UK, to tell us more about this unique three-day cultural extravaganza.

Li Li - FestivalAsia organiser

MyM: For those readers who don’t know you, please share a little about your background in China, when and why you became interested in music and why you decided to come to England in 2008.
Li Li: I became interested in music during my teenage years and almost by chance I found out I actually had a good voice! But after I started working on it, I got seriously hooked and have decided to take it all the way. So I moved to Birmingham to attend the Birmingham Conservatoire.

You are also the founder of Lilisan Ltd. What was your reason for setting up this company and what are its main objectives?
I have been thinking for a while about organising FestivalAsia and other possible events to widen the perception of Asia and satisfy the growing interest towards this continent. So I teamed up with World Concert Artists Ltd, which is an established entertainment agency and also manages me as a singer, to start this adventure. Lilisan Ltd is owned by World Concert Artists and myself.

What is FestivalAsia and how did the idea first come about? And how will it differ from other Asia-related events taking place in the UK?
It is about the whole of Asia! We want to encompass as much of all cultures as possible from the intriguing Asian continent. Asia is so vast, and although there are already brilliant events about Asia taking place in London, they are based only on one country or one area. Never before has London seen an event showcasing the whole Asian continent.

Korean musician Ji Eun Jung from music duo Kaya

Amongst the activities for families, will there be a play area and workshops for the kids?
There is literally everything in FestivalAsia: culture, spirituality, martial arts, live performances, products, travel, business and indeed activities for children. Imagine a child trying their hand at calligraphy, or colouring dragons, or learning the beautiful table game Go; and maybe even attempting to learn martial arts. It’s going to be fun.

What acts and performers can visitors look forward to seeing live?
Acts performing on the main stage include Japanese Enka singer Akari Moziguchi and master Shamisen player Hibiki Ichikawa, the Indonesian traditional dance troupe Lila Bhawa and Fleur Estelle Dance School. We will also have Bollywood dancers, taiko drummers, belly dancers and performers from Japan, Korea, China, Philippines, Malaysia and much more. We will host a different performance every 15 minutes, for the whole three days. Can you imagine? There’ll be almost 100 performances.

Being a professional soprano singer, will you also be performing?
I will indeed. Besides the famous aria Nessun Dorma, which is one of my opera favourites, I will also sing famous traditional Chinese songs.

Are there any special guests attending you can tell us about?
We have a few very cool names, but that’s still a secret. Besides the still confidential VIPs, we have institutional VIPs that we are honoured to have with us. These include the ambassadors of Afghanistan and Indonesia, the second secretary of the Korean Embassy as well as several other embassy representatives, including the Chinese Embassy.

Traditional dancer of Lila Bhawa Indonesian dance troupe  who will be performing at FestivalAsia

Why did you choose Tobacco Dock as the venue?
It’s very beautiful and original; it has its own character. Although the ExCel or Olympia are popular venues, they lack the spirit and difference we wanted for FestivalAsia. Inside it is 150,000 square feet with outdoor spaces we can also use, full of light in places but also with a vault area for the intimate moments or exhibitors. It is ideal.

The festival takes place over three days and is split into sessions, so could you explain how the ticket system work?
It’s very simple. Friday 15 May we open at 2pm until 10pm. Saturday we have two sessions: a 10am to 3.30pm first session; then a 4.30pm to 10pm second session. It’s the most popular day of the week for festivals, so we want to give more people the opportunity to enjoy FestivalAsia without experiencing a too busy venue. Then Sunday is from 10am to 7pm.

FestivalAsia runs from 15-17 May 2015 and visitors can buy tickets directly from the official website, as well as on Chillitickets.com, Seetickets.com and Ticketmaster.co.uk. Those interested in becoming an exhibitor/vendor can email exhibitor@festivalasia.co.uk or call 020 3475 8675 find out more or to book space.

Festival Asia

Image copyright: Spencer Lloyd Peet

Eastern promise for FestivalAsia

Claiming to be London’s largest indoor Asian festival, FestivalAsia will see more than 150 exhibitors gather at Tobacco Dock. Visitors over the three days can expect a mix of eastern music, dance, food, fashion, martial arts and more, as the event embraces all Asian Cultures.

“With all this taking place under just one roof, visitors will be enlightened, moved and entertained and leave having savoured experiences from some of the 29 countries that constitute this fascinating continent,” a FestivalAsia spokesman said.

Dozens of artists will champion a variety of traditional and modern Asian performance styles on the main stage, while the Martial Arts Stage will show demonstrations and the varied Food Court will offer the opportunity to taste the whole of Asia in one go.

FestivalAsia will also invite representatives of different spiritualities to talk about their experiences, including Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Confucianism, Taosim, Jainism, Skikhism, Zoroastranism, Zen and Yoga.

INFORMATION
Venue: Tobacco Dock, London E1
Nearest transport: Tower Hill, Wapping, Shadwell

Friday 15 May 2015: 2pm – 10pm
Saturday 16 May 2015: 10am – 3.30pm
Saturday 16 May 2015: 4.30pm – 10pm
Sunday 17 May 2015: 10am – 7pm

Tickets
Adult: £12.50 in advance, £15 on the door
Children: £8 in advance, £10 on the door (up to 10 years old, accompanied by a paying adult)