Wednesday, July 08, 2009

2nd Annual Ashu Babu Memorial Tabla School Concert

Last Saturday I had one of my yearly highlights - the 2nd Annual Ashu Babu Memorial Tabla School Concert. Last year's inaugural concert was a wonderful event, and this year's lived up to the promise with all the students making good progress over the year, and the night being as full of love and devotion as could be. Unfortunately this year a few students had to pull out at the last minute but all the students, whether they performed at the concert or not, really put in a great effort and improved their tabla immensely. Imagine if they practised like that all year round! :-)

The concert was held a couple of days before the July full moon (this year July 7), known as "Guru Purnima" or "Guru's full moon", and was dedicated to my guru-ji of tabla, Late Pandit Kaviraj Ashutosh Bhattacharya also known as "Ashu Babu". He was a great teacher, great tabla player and great man and I was so lucky to have had the chance to learn from him for 10 years until his passing in 2004.

At this year's concert I introduced a friendly competitive element with some prizes for the top three performances. Big thanks to sitar player Saikat Bhattacharya and Kathak dancer Namita Debroy for judging the performances. First prize winner Arka Basu wins a full tabla overhaul with new skins, second prize winner Sanjeyan Sivaananthan will get one drum reskinned, and third prize winner Jesinthan Ketheeswaran gets a couple of free lessons. Thanks to Brisbane Indian Times for sponsoring the prizes.

Many thanks to all the students and families for all their support, especially to Rob, Liz, and Param for the sweets and drinks, the Middle Park mothers for all their food and decorations, Sulagna Basu and Yuki Taniguchi for wonderful mantra and bhajans to open the evening, and to my sister Jacki for coming up from Victoria to sit on the door (and to attend a medical conference over the weekend).

Finally, big thanks to Joseph Nand who gave very beautiful and patient harmonium accompaniment all night, as well as providing and setting up the sound system with Mohit whose sound engineering was brilliant. Thanks guys!

Guru-ji - Late Pandit Kaviraj Ashutosh Bhattacharya - watched over the proceedings

Yuki Taniguchi opened the evening with beautiful and meditative mantras

Sulagna Basu presented some devotional bhajans, accompanied on tabla by her son Arka and on harmonium by Joseph Nand, who accompanied all the following tabla performances as well.

Rob Sri Nath Wallis got the tabla solos going

Indveer Singh (11)

Shayne Prakash (13)

Arka Basu (13) - 1st prize winner

Tabla Lehri - "garland of tablas" - a tradition at my Guru-ji's tabla school concerts, and very well-received by the audience

Thejan Elankayer (9)

Sanjeyan Sivaananthan (13) - 2nd prize

Jesinthan Ketheeswaran (15) - 3rd prize

The students were all presented with certificates by judges Saikat Bhattacharya and Namita Debroy. Down the left-hand side of the certificates, I placed pictures of the 7 generations of guru-student tradition (guru-shishya parampara) from the progenitor of the Benares Gharana, Pt Ram Sahai (1780-1824) down to myself. (Thanks to Shawn Mativetsky for the great photos and info on his website about our great Varanasi tabla tradition.)

After presentation of certificates I gave a 40 minute tabla solo, very enjoyable. I used my G# tabla which I've just reskinned and are sounding absolutely fantastic!
I have to thank Sulagna Basu also for the lovely green kurta.

Thanks again to Joseph for beautiful lehera on harmonium, and to Mohit for great sound.


Shawn said...

Congratulations Shen, to you and all your students. Looks like another great event! How about some video clips? :)

Shen said...

Video? Unfortunately not.
Hopefully next year.