Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Various events Jan to May 2017

Continuing my walk down memory lane reviewing the various events of the last year, here are various events from the first part of 2017...



MARCH 2017
  • Sat 25 Mar Wynnum: Spirit of Bhakti - at the beautiful Inna Bliss Wynnum studio overlooking Moreton Bay. Lovely as always to play with Rebecca and Menaka in Spirit of Bhakti. 

APRIL 2017
  • Sun 9 Apr Oxley: Tabla Workshop with Surojato Roy - Jazz guitarist Bart Stenhouse had brought Surojato to Australia for their tour, and I was really happy for the chance for my students (others welcome of course) to learn something from a visiting tabla master. We learnt a chalan of Lucknow gharana and worked quite a bit on clear vocalisation of compositions.

  • Fri 14 - Sun 16 Apr Byron Bay Blues Fest: Tenzin and Shen - A new experience for me, witnessing the music industry in full force, as Bluesfest plays host to a huge array of international stars and the backstage crews and equipment are just phenomenal. The artists' catering is the best I've ever seen at any festival. It was a bit strange playing to an audience who were standing on gravel rather than sitting down, but we rocked the house. And I got to see Santana and his amazing band from the backstage viewing platform. Thanks to Tenzin Choegyal for inviting me to accompany him as part of the Boomerang Festival of indigenous performers, hosted by Bluesfest.

  • Sat 22 Apr Oxley: Introduction to Dhrupad ~Ancient Indian Vocal Workshop~ with Yuki
  • Fri 28 Apr New Farm: Festival of Tibet - Lotus Born Concert - Another memorable collaboration with Tenzin Choegyal and artist Karma Phuntsok, evolving from Festivals of Tibet in 2015 and 2016. This year's show had a really nice flow and variety of styles, with pieces by Peter Hunt (jazz guitar/vocal), Richard Grantham (looped viola), Marcello Milani (vocals/guitar) and of course Tenzin Choegyal, interspersed with traditional Tibetan song and dance by Tenzing Yeshi.
MAY 2017

India trip 2017

For the last few years we have been visiting India for Dhrupad Mela on the event of Shivaratri, and if possible staying for my guru-ji's memorial concert on March 17. This year was the 100th anniversary of his birthday so we made it a priority to attend. Unfortunately, quite early in this India trip I was struck by shingles so spent quite a lot of time in bed with severe back pain, saving my energy for lessons and the occasional concert. I did get some excellent lessons from Pt Pooran Maharaj as well as my guru-bhai Manishankar Tripathi, saw some fantastic performances, and made a few good new friends too.

Ustad Bahauddin Dagar (rudra veena) with Sukhad Munde (pakhawaj) at Dhrupad Mela 2017.

Beautiful performance by vocalist Kalapini Komkali at the Shivaratri Sangeet Mahotsav

I bumped into Tu of Bangkok's Tu's Place at the Dhrupad Mela, having not met for about 10 years!

I really enjoyed performing with UK bansuri player Jason Kalidas, at an all-night memorial concert for late pakhawaji Amit Shani.

Yuki had the opportunity to perform at Subah-e-Benares, a daily dawn concert on Assi Ghat.

Practice with guru-bhai Manishankar Tripathi and his student Ashesh Mishra.

My friend, Turkish vocalist Feridun Avar, visited from Brisbane on his way to Turkey and France. We visited the Ganesh Hall at my guru-ji Pt Pooran Maharaj's house.

We also had a little concert at Vegan and Raw Restaurant near Assi, where we were joined by Wade Evans on oud.

Supriyo Dutta and Sangeet Mishra at Woodford

This summer we had the great pleasure of hosting vocalist Supriyo Dutta, who we became friends with on previous trips through Kolkata. I had suggested him as a performer at Woodford Folk Festival and not only did they accept, they offered to also bring Sangeet Mishra to accompany on sarangi! It was a dream come true presenting such a high level of Indian classical music at Woodford, the likes of which they 'd never seen before. Supriyo and Sangeet had never met, but the chemistry in their performances was just fantastic. It was also a real treat that Supriyo invited Yuki to give vocal support in our concerts there.

Prior to Woodford, we had a few small events with Supriyo in Goonengerry and Myocum (including a workshop), hosted by and also featuring Indian slide guitarist Shivam Rath, now resident in NNSW and organising regular Indian music events there, and a workshop and home concert in Brisbane.

Good times in Byron Bay - Supriyo Dutta, Shen and Yuki

Post-concert at Serene Earth Sanctuary in Myocum
 - Yuki, Shen, Premala, Supriyo, Shyan Kishore, Shivam Rath

Woodford was one of the hottest ever - regularly over 40 - which made it tough, but the music was just marvellous.

Final sunset of 2016 - the sun was in my eyes, hence the sunglasses.

First concert of 2017, right around midnight.

My tabla student group Tabla Tarrango were invited to perform on New Year's Day, with accompaniment by Sangeet Mishra (sarangi).

After Woodford Festival, Supriyo headed home to Kolkata and we had a few little concerts with Sangeet Mishra, including a nice Queen St Mall show with Tenzin Choegyal and Tashi Lhunpo Monks of Tibet, and a home concert with sitarist Saikat Bhattacharya.

Shen, Saikat and Sangeet at Saikat's home in Parkinson.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Various events Jul to Dec 2016

Wow, I used to be such a regular blogger and here I find I can go back to July 2016 for concerts I haven't mentioned here yet. Here goes - 49 events over the last financial year to be spread out over the next few posts...

JULY 2016



  • Sat 8 Oct Peregian: Spirit of Bhakti - a small fun concert, before which we had this and several other photos taken:

  • Sun 9 Oct Westlake: Navaratri home concert by Ashu Babu Memorial Tabla School - a small devotional event at the home of my senior student Sanjey Sivaananthan, featuring Murali Ramakrishnan and Darshil Shah both on bansuri.

  • Sat 15 Oct Holland Park: Sangeet Premi Club presents Sangeet Mehfil - An evening of old Bollywood songs with Indian classical bases, featuring Usha Chivukula and Mansey Kinarivala on vocals.
  • Sun 16 Oct Introduction to Dhrupad ~Ancient Indian Vocal Workshop~ - with Yuki Taniguchi Flindell (I played a bit of pakhawaj).
  • Fri 21 Oct Spirit of Bhakti played on a boat in the Brisbane River, as part of a demo series of yoga and exercise classes in a Fitness and Health Expo.

    Yes I played tabla here.
  • Sat 29 Oct New Farm: Infinity Kathak presents: 7 Beats and Bells - One of the biggest and best productions I've ever been involved with - Dr Helena Joshi led a huge Kathak dance show at the Judith Wright Centre, with a fantastic ensemble of musicians: Shen Flindell (tabla), Mansey Kinarivala Gandhi (vocal), Darshil A. Shah (bansuri), Richard Grantham (viola), Monique Bartkowiak (cello) and Shreyas Niwas (drumkit). After Helena's student performances and some musical interludes, the main feature "7 Beats and Bells" presented traditional Kathak dance in Rupak taal in a fusion with Western accompaniment of viola, cello and drumkit. We worked very hard over several months and it was quite a success. I felt the Kathak tabla nut starting to crack for me and at last started getting a freer feeling and understanding of how to interpret Kathak compositions on the tabla. Thanks Helena! More photos at the Infinity Kathak Facebook album.



Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Sangeet Mela 2016 – Heaven on Earth for Music Lovers

Sangeet Mela, now in its third year, continued its trend of ever more fabulous Indian classical performances on Saturday 3rd September 2016 at Queensland Multicultural Centre. The high quality of each item kept the near capacity audience riveted to their seats, and there was a building sense of anticipation for the final “East Marries West” jugalbandi by international feature artists, Pt Shubhendra Rao (sitar) and Smt Saskia Rao-de Haas (cello) with Sri Zuheb Ahmed Khan (tabla).
Sangeet Mela 2016 MCs Ku Alka Jaggessar and Dr Helena Joshi

The festival opened with performances by young artists under 25 who had applied for the Sangeet Premi Rising Star Awards and the chance to perform at this prestigious festival. Mathuja Bavan, who won the award for Bharat Natyam dance in 2015, returned to the stage on violin, accompanying her younger sister Oaviya who received the award for Carnatic vocal. They were joined on mridangam by fellow award winner Hariharan Vaheesan and his guru Arthavan Selvanathan.mathujq-7
Rising Star Award winners Hariharan Vaheesan, Mathuja Bavan and Oaviya Bavan with Brisbane Indian Times editor Sri Umesh Chandra

The featured Rising Star in Hindustani vocal was Ananya Muralidharan, who enchanted the audience with her sweet voice, rendering Raga Bhimpalassi and a short bhajan most beautifully.
ananya-8Finally Vellantina Ravirajah received the award for Bharat Natyam dance and demonstrated her talent in abhinaya (facial expressions) and drama.tina-18We heartily congratulate this year’s Sangeet Premi Rising Star Award winners and look forward to many more great performances from them.
The afternoon session closed with a tabla solo by Sri Zuheb Ahmed Khan, a member of the founding family of Ajrara Gharana. His performance featured a dazzling range of compositions from off-beat Peshkar to rapid, flowing Rela and sent the audience to the interval eagerly awaiting more.zuheb-33
The second session opened with a captivating performance of Mohiniattam dance by Smt Bindu Rajendren, certainly one of the highlights in a day full of magic moments. Her padams“Karukarey Karmukil”, “Enthaho vallabha” and “Pandhattam” had the crowd enthralled with her wide palette of expressions from humorous to serene.bindu-94
Sangeet Premi Club president Yousuf Alikhan invited the audience to spread the word about Sangeet Mela and Indian classical music and dance.

Smt Charulatha Mani (Carnatic vocal), with accompaniment by interstate artists Sridhar Chari (mridangam) and Kranthi Kiran Mudigonda (violin), gave a consummate presentation of how so-called “difficult” classical music can be presented with mastery and grace, and become spell-binding for any listener regardless of background. She even had everyone laughing when she responded to some hesitant applause with “a few more years of Sangeet Mela and you’ll know when to clap!”
The sunset session was closed by young Sydney vocalist, Sri Sayak Bhattacharya presenting Raga Bihag followed by a short rendition of Raga Puriya Kalyan, with able accompaniment by local artists Sri Joseph Nand (harmonium) and Sri Shen Flindell (tabla). The ease and fluidity of his voice evoked his renowned guru Ustad Rashid Khan, and it was hard to believe that he grew up mainly in Sydney.sayak-bhattacharya-71sayak-bhattacharya-36
Festival director Sri Shen Flindell, Brisbane Indian Times editor Sri Umesh Chandra, Councillor Jonathan Sri of The Gabba Ward, and Sangeet Premi Club president Sri Yousuf Alikhan. 

Following the dinner interval, we had a special performance by Bharat Natyam dancer Ku Janani Ganapathi with a live ensemble of local and interstate musicians led by vocalist Smt Susmitha Ravi and natthuvangist Smt Usha Chivukula.
janaani-240Janani gave a masterful performance and the electricity manifest by the dancer and musicians creating their art simultaneously added to the excitement and attraction.
Councillor Jonathan Sri of The Gabba Ward addressed the audience while the stage was being set up for the final item. The Gabba Ward supported Sangeet Mela 2016 through the Suburban Development Fund. His comments about the importance of cultural events like Sangeet Mela and how it would be better to spend a bit less on sport and more on culture were very well received.dsc_0169-1
At last the moment every was waiting for had arrived. Having witnessed a wide variety of excellent Indian classical performances, everyone was in the mood for something really sensational and their expectations were exceeded by Sangeet Mela 2016’s grand finale.shubendra-rao-30Pt Shubhendra Rao, protegee of the great sitar maestro Pt Ravi Shankar, with his wife Smt Saskia Rao-de Haas, pioneer of the Indian cello, had the audience captivated from first to last with their jugalbandi. In particular, the sound of the cello with its long deep meends and beautiful tone, and Saskia’s lively and at times ecstatic demeanour really stole the show.saskia-rao-de-haas-173
The harmony and interplay between Shubhendra’s traditional Maihar gharana sitar and Saskia’s innovative cello demonstrated a couple deeply in love and honouring each other through their shared devotion to classical tradition. Alap-jor-jhala in Raga Jog was followed by vilambit and drut gats in Rag Charukeshi, where tablist Zuheb Ahmed Khan added tasteful accompaniment and thrilling solos. The artists responded to the standing ovation and calls for encore with a lovely short medley of Vaishnava Janato and a Bengali dhun.saskia-rao-de-haas-103
A day of smiles and thrills, meditation and ecstasy through music and dance had come to a close. The festival organisers Sangeet Premi Club and EthnoSuperLounge are very grateful to the sponsors and supporting organisations, artists, volunteers and ticket buyers for making it all possible. We eagerly await Sangeet Mela 2017.

Photo credits: Brian Sullivan and Barani Ganapathi. See many more photos in our Sangeet Mela 2016 Facebook album.

Sangeet Mela 2016 was supported by the Lord Mayor’s Suburban Initiative Fund and The Gabba Ward, and proudly sponsored by Platinum Sponsor SolarSpan, Australia’s favourite all-in-one patio roof, insulation & ceiling, giving superior comfort & style to your outdoor area. Also supported by Supporting Organisation Sahaja Yoga Meditation, Silver Sponsors Homeopathy for Health (Rukmani Paliwal), Sitar RestaurantTarget Travels & ToursYoga With Yolanda, IGA Forest Lake, and Exclusive Media Sponsors Brisbane Indian Times and Australian Indian Radio. Sangeet Mela is organised bySangeet Premi Club in conjunction with EthnoSuperLounge, and underwritten by a consortium of dedicated Indian classical music lovers including Australia-India Cultural Exchange AssociationTabla Wala Australia, and FinancialFirst.

Monday, July 25, 2016

9th Annual Ashu Babu Memorial Tabla School Concert

On the Saturday before Guru Purnima ("Guru's full moon"), 18th July 2016, we held our 9th annual tabla school concert at Queensland Multicultural Centre (aka BEMAC). We continued the trend of each and every student improving year by year, as well as the arrangements and presentations of all the group performances. This year we had 24 students performing, including 2 groups of 7 tabla students! A first this year was the inclusion of a short instrumental section presented by Murali Ramakrishnan (bansuri), accompanied by my senior student Sanjey Sivaananthan.

As always big thanks to our regular sponsors Brisbane Indian Times, our stalwart harmonium accompanist Joseph Nand, and dilruba accompanist Adarshbir Singh. Thanks to Brian Sullivan and Bappi Hussain for the photographs, to Susmitha Ravi for coordinating the meals, to all the students and parents for their tireless efforts, and to all the other supporters who came along to listen.

Opening bhajan by Rhea Ravi, with Sivamsan Senthilvasan on tabla

Beginners group: Guhanesh, Ashwin, Aarav, Rishab, Rohan, Pyara and Enan.

Juniors group: Ben, Ashwin, Aaryan, Aditya and Josh.

Varun Lal was my best student back in 2008, when he had a tragic car accident which left him unable to use his left side. He has been learning tabla again for the last few years and is doing great.

Tabla solo in jhaptaal by Rhea Ravi.

Bansuri recital by Murali Ramakrishnan, with Sanjey Sivaananthan on tabla.

Intermediate tabla group incorporating Chermside, Gold Coast and Westlake students: Bipro, Ishaaq, Arun, Siva, Sivamsan, Ayngaran and Hari.

Senior tabla group performance in Jhaptaal: Sanjey, Tito and Jesinthan with Adarshbir Singh (dilruba) and Joseph Nand (harmonium)

Presentation of certificates by chief guest Sri Umesh Chandra of Brisbane Indian Times.

Tabla solo in Basant Taal (9 matras, in honour of our 9th annual concert) by Shen Flindell, with Adarshbir Singh (dilruba) and Joseph Nand (harmonium)

There are lots more photos in the Facebook albums of Brian Sullivan and Bappi Hussain (The Picture Hub).

Pt Kushal Das in Brisbane

As mentioned in my previous post, June 2016 was a milestone month for me in terms of playing with high level Indian classical musicians. After suddenly being called to accompany South Indian vocalist OS Arun's devotional concert, the following week I had two shows with brilliant young sarangi master Sangeet Mishra. But the definite highlight was my concert with sitar maestro Pt Kushal Das from Kolkata.

Kushal-da was in Australia to perform with Pt Kumar Bose in a concert in Sydney, so while he was here the organisers asked me to help out with a concert in Brisbane. It was a golden opportunity and great honour for me to accompany such a wonderful artist, as well as to host him at our home for a few days. We got to know a genuine artist with sincere devotion to his art, who was very encouraging to all he met. The concert left everyone present feeling clear and uplifted.

Many thanks to Brisbane Indian Times, Sangeet Premi Club, Sitar Restaurant, and the rest of the consortium of Indian classical music lovers who got behind me to underwrite the concert, giving me confidence to go ahead without the worry of a big loss in the event that the audience didn't turn up in big numbers. In the end the concert was a success and the underwriters all got to enjoy the concert for free, as well as the feeling of having helped to create something magical in Brisbane. This system of underwriting big classical concerts by a team of supporters is something I'm keen to continue in the future, so if you are prepared to take an active stake in promoting Indian classical music events with me, please do get in touch!

Many thanks to Brian Sullivan for these photos. You can find many more on his Facebook album, "Kushal Das Concert".  The Picture Hub also has a nice selection of Bappi Hussain's photos in their Facebook album, "A Melodious Sitar Evening by Pandith Kushal Das and Shen Flindell".