Thursday, October 10, 2013

Japan tour 2013

In September Yuki, baby Saraswati and I took our first family trip to Japan, to spend time with our friends and Yuki's family, as well as doing a few concerts around the country. This summer was one of the hottest on record in Japan, with days over 40 degrees before we arrived. Our first couple of weeks there were like Indian monsoon season - hot and sticky! It quickly cooled off for our last week or so though. Thanks to everyone who helped out a little by organising small concerts, and to those who came along too.

Sun Sep 1 Genshin-An Japanese garden concert with Taro Terahara (bansuri) and Takaaki Kuno (ghatam)

 Fri Sep 6 Kamakura: Concert at Magokoro with Yuki Taniguchi Flindell (Dhrupad, bhajan) and Baku Hirakawa (sarod)
with Baku at Magokoro

 Sat Sep 7 Shibuya: Vocal concert with Fumie Negishi, harmonium accompaniment by Tomomi Kitami. A most excellent concert - Raga Behag in vilambit ektaal, madhya laya teentaal, drut ektaal, Raga Chandrakauns in teentaal, 2 dadras.  As far as I know, Fumie is the first to be doing so well in Indian classical vocal in Japan.
 Sun Sep 8 Kanda (Tokyo): Dhrupad workshop and concert with Yuki

Family sightseeing on Enoshima, where there is a shrine to Benzaiten, the Japanese Saraswati.

Butoh dance workshop at Ohno Dance Studio, near Yokohama

Yoshito Ohno giving butoh dance class

Fri Sep 13 Nagoya: Concert with Tetsuya Kaneko, Yuki Kaneko and Yuki Taniguchi Flindell
First item: Yuki Kaneko (violin) and Shen (tabla)

Second item: Yuki (dhrupad vocal) and Tetsuya (pakhawaj)

Third item: percussion duet by Shen and Tetsuya.
Tabla solo in vilambit teentaal, Pakhawaj solo in madhya laya chautaal, duet in drut teentaal

Two and a half couples - what a great team!

Sat Sep 14 Kobe: Sagar (sarod) and Kazuyoshi Ohasi (tabla)

Sat Sep 14 Kobe: Shuhei Ozaki (sitar) and Shen

Sat Sep 14 Kobe: Raga bhairavi sitar-sarod duet

At this point in tour I was supposed to perform at Yamauto Festival with sitarist Yasuhiro Minamizawa, however a typhoon came along and changed our plans. We went to the festival on Sunday afternoon so that I could see what goes on there at least. Rainfall ranged from drizzle to heavy and we decided we would be more comfortable returning to Kyoto (90 mins drive) and coming back for our morning performance early Monday morning (Monday being a holiday). The typhoon hit overnight and in the morning several roads and tunnels were closed. It's very lucky we decided to come back, otherwise we might have been stuck in Yamauto for a few days! And I had a concert in Osaka that evening...

Mon Sep 16 Osaka: Calcutta Night Vol 96 with Tadao Ishihama (sitar)

Driving back to Tokyo, after the typhoon the air was very clear. This was my clearest view of Fuji-san ever! After the very hot summer there was no snow on top - very unusual.

The next day I went for a walk with my old mate T.C. Deane who took this beautiful photo from Inamuragasaki headland, near Kamakura.

Australian sunrise flying back home.

More photos on Yuki's Facebook album.

Various concerts in August (no pics)

I had a few performances at Indian community events in August, plus a trip to Emerald (country Queensland) with Tenzin Choegyal. I didn't get any photos of any of them, but for the sake of completeness here's the wrap-up:

Sun Aug 4 - Brisbane Music Circle celebrates 200th birth year of Pt Swati Thirunal
Brisbane Music Circle organises events for amateur musicians, especially vocalists. This event featured 16 vocalists performing compositions by renowned South Indian composer Pt Swati Thirunal, who was born in 1813. I accompanied most of the performers including my lovely wife Yuki.

Sat Aug 10 - Indian Independence Day Cultural Dinner by India-Australia Society
At this event I accompanied young Carnatic vocalist Roshini Sriram and also presented a performance by three of my tabla students, Bipro, Rhea and Sivamsan.

Sat Aug 17 - Indian Independence Day Celebrations by ‘Shrishti’ Academy of Speech, Music and Drama
The first half of this event presented vocalists singing patriotic Indian songs in a whole range of Indian languages. I accompanied Roshini Sriram and also Yuki who sang a song in Marathi, "Jayathi Jayathi Bharata Mata". The second half of the event consisted of various dance and drama performances.

Sat Aug 24 - Central Highlands Multicultural Festival (Emerald)
Tenzin Choegyal invited me to join him for this lovely festival in Emerald, 900km from Brisbane. On the day before the festival we had a workshop with some kids at the Emerald State School. We taught them one of Tenzin's songs, "Heart Sutra", plus an introductory vocalisation of the Indian rhythm "keherva". This song with the kids became the finale of our set at the festival. We were joined at the festival by our friend Nicholas Ng on erhu, and also enjoyed the performance of fellow Brisbanites Bart Stenhouse (guitar), Ravi Singh (tabla) and friends and their Indo-jazz group "Kashi Nath".

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

6th Annual Ashu Babu Memorial Tabla School Concert

The full moon in July is celebrated in Hinduism as "Guru Purnima" (Guru's full moon), and each year my students and I put on a concert presenting our Benares Gharana tabla tradition for the students' families and other friends. Our tabla school has been growing year by year and after 5 years of concerts in small community halls this year we had enough participants to warrant hiring the much more professional auditorium at Queensland Multicultural Centre. Many thanks to BEMAC for helping out with this excellent facility, event sponsor Brisbane Indian Times, all the families and friends for their support, our regular lehra accompanist Joseph Nand and volunteer sound tech assistant Marcello Milani.

(Links for previous concerts: 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012.)

Opening bhajan by Susmitha Ravi accompanied by Rhea Ravi (tabla) and Joseph Nand (harmonium)

Beginner students performance: Siva Rathinam, Siva Bhanvadiya, Rushi Kakkad, Khushi Prasad, Ashwin Premraj, Shainthra Birabaharan, Mann Bhatt, Shiva Prasad

Private students: Rhea Ravi, Sivamsan Senthilvasan

Northside students: Tahsin Hussain, Ishaaq Jamil, Siddharth Nagpurkar

Joseph Nand (harmonium accompaniment)

Gold Coast students: Nitin Niranjan, Thejan Elankayer

Senior students: Bhavik Barot, Jesinthan Ketheeswaran

Shen Flindell

Umesh Chandra of event sponsors Brisbane Indian Times

Presentation of certificates

Monday, September 02, 2013

Encounters: India Festival and tour with Dhrupad vocalist Pt Ritwik Sanyal

In May the Queensland Conservatorium of Music held the Encounters: India Festival, part of a series of biennial festivals which foster collaborations and discussions with musicians from various countries. Among the musicians they invited was Dhrupad vocal exponent Pt Ritwik Sanyal, who by lucky chance happens to be my wife Yuki's vocal guru. A lot of the festival's funding fell through which resulted in them cancelling many of the musicians they'd invited, but we offered to host Sanyal-ji and organise some extra concerts which was a boon for the festival, Yuki and myself. Dhrupad is usually accompanied by the barrel drum, pakhawaj (known as the grandfather of tabla) so I got lots of practice using pakhawaj technique and rhythms on the tabla. It was really a blessing and special opportunity for me.

Unfortunately for those of us who love Indian classical music, most of the festival turned out to be "Indian" music from a Western classical perspective - compositions by Western classical composers with some obscure Indian influence, compositions and performances by Indian musicians in the Western classical genre, a few collaborations with Indian classical musicians but still in a Western classical setting, and a very few pure Indian classical performances. There were times when Sanyal-ji was asked to perform only 5 minutes alap which is frankly ridiculous.  There were many complaints and even audience walkouts during performances. However there was still one night of pure Indian classical music which was just wonderful, including Sanyal-ji and also great khayal vocalist Shubha Mudgal with her husband Aneesh Pradhan, a brilliant tabla player, as well as the legendary Carnatic percussion group, Sruthi Laya Ensemble. It was really an honour for me to be on the stage that night. Unfortunately I don't have any photos to share from the festival as I'm yet to receive the official photos.
Impromptu fusion improvisation in the opening day "Introductions" session.
L to R: Rajesh Mehta (trumpet), Rohan de Saram (cello), Patricia Rozario (seated at back - soprano), Aneesh Pradhan (tabla), Greta Bradman (seated at back - soprano), Shubha Mudgal (khayal vocal), Ritwik Sanyal (Dhrupad vocal), Sudhir Nayak (harmonium), Ramli Ibrahim (dance), Yuki Taniguchi Flindell (seated at back)

 Yuki, Sanyal-ji and baby Saraswati with Shubha Mudgal
 Concert at Awakening Centre, Maleny

Home concert at The Lighthouse, Oxley

Home concert at Victoria's glorious house, near Mullumbimby

Various concerts April-August 2013

Hey folks, it's been almost 6 months since my last blog. Having a baby has taken up just about every spare moment! So I'm going to summarise most of the last 6 months in this post, plus make another couple of posts for some special events in that period - the Encounters: India Festival and tour in May with Dhrupad exponent Pt Ritwik Sanyal and my 6th annual tabla school concert in July.

April 27: Tibet Education Fundraiser in New Farm with Tibet2Timbuk2

May 5: Warwick Peace Festival with Tenzin Choegyal and guitarist Rohin Power

May 11: Home concert with vocalist Pt Sugata Marjit

May 15-19: Encounters: India Festival and tour with Dhrupad vocalist Pt Ritwik Sanyal

June 7-9: Sitar Restaurant 20th anniversary with sitarist Sudha Manian


June 9 - Bhajan concert at Sri Saileshwara Mandir with Susmitha Ravi

June 29: Yogafest with Tibet2Timbuk2

June 30: Bhajan concert in Gold Coast Bhakti Centre with Tahir Qawwal

July 13: Accompanied Tenzin Choegyal as part of interview/concert in Brisbane Powerhouse

July 14: Swara Mohini Strings of India 2013 with sitarists Dr Indranil Chatterjee and Saikat Bhattacharya

July 27: 6th Annual Ashu Babu Memorial Tabla School Concert

August 4: Brisbane Music Circle concert celebrating 200th anniversary of Pt Swati Thirunal
 - About 16 amateur vocalists performed compositions by renowned South Indian composer Pt Swati Thirunal.

August 10: Indian Independence Day Cultural Dinner featuring Roshini Sriram and Tabla Tarrango
  - I accompanied Roshini and then 3 of my students gave a tabla demonstration before dinner was served.

August 17: Indian Independence Day concert featuring Yuki and Shen
 - At this concert there were many vocal performances of patriotic Indian songs in a variety of languages, followed by many dance performances and also a "fancy dress" show with kids dressing as famous Indian freedom fighters and giving small speeches in various languages.

August 24: Central Highlands Multicultural Festival in Emerald with Tenzin Choegyal
 - The day before the festival we gave a workshop in Emerald State School and the kids performed a song with us at the festival. We started with "Dha gi na gi na ka dhin na" and then went into the Tibetan prayer "Heart Sutra".

Right now I'm in Japan with my family for a few weeks and I have 8 concerts while we're here - hopefully it won't take another 6 months to post photos of the fun we're having here!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Shivaratri at Sri Selva Vinayakar Temple

Last weekend we celebrated Mahashivaratri (Great Shiva's Night) by attending and participating in a musical function at Sri Selva Vinayakar (Ganesh) South Indian Temple in South Maclean, about 45 minutes south of Brisbane. 

Accompanying Susmitha Ravi's student group
 Accompanying Vijaya Visvanathan and students
 Performance by Ashu Babu Memorial Tabla School - Jesinthan, Rhea and Shen.
Programme: Jesinthan's solo, Rhea's solo, Shen's solo, tabla trio in keherva

This was our first family outing since Saraswati-chan was born. Following the musical programme we attended the puja in the temple and took blessings for our new baby and new family.

United Nations of Indian Classical Music at BEMAC

At long last the date for the rescheduled United Nations of Indian Classical Music concert in Brisbane came around! Following the sell-out Mullumbimby concert on Jan 26, the previously scheduled Brisbane concert on Jan 27 was blown away by Cyclone Oswald. (We had a little home concert that night.)  One month later, Saturday Feb 23, turned out to be a big success and well worth the wait.

The weather was certainly on our side. After the cyclone in January and despite continuing rain in the weeks around the rescheduled date, the day of the concert itself was fine and warm.

Yuki opened with Dhrupad in Raga Yaman, Dhamar (14 beats) and Sooltaal (10 beats), accompanied by myself on tabla. Prof Huib Schippers especially complimented her on her achievement after just 5 years studies in Dhrupad.

Mathuja Bavan gave a beautiful Bharat Natyam performance of 3 short pieces, and several audience members later commented that it was the best Bharat Natyam they had ever seen.

Tahir Qawwal and his wife Barbi were accompanied in several pieces - khyal, geet, Qawwali - by excellent Sydney-based tabla player Maharshi Raval.  I think this might have been the most popular item of the evening - Tahir sold out of all the CDs he brought.

During the break the audience were served complimentary chai and samosas courtesy of Sitar Restaurant.

After the break Mathuja gave another 10 minute performance, which was followed by the jugalbandi between Vinod Prasanna (bansuri) and Saikat Bhattacharya (sitar), accompanied on tabla by both Maharshi and myself. Maharshi played a high D tabla and I played an octave below, which created a nice texture to the percussive accompaniment.  Vinod invited the audience to meditate together for a minute or so before starting a beautiful Raga Bageshri - alap, gats in vilambit, madhya lay and drut teentaal.

The programme closed with the bhajan "Om Jai Jagdish Hare", joined by all the musicians as well as the audience. In the final section "Jai Ram, Jai Ram", Mathuja appeared from side of stage and performed some lovely improvised dance.

Altogether we had 165 attendees (although some of those had bought tickets in support of the event despite not being able to attend). The atmosphere was buzzing and we received so many compliments on the quality of each performance and on the overall programming selection.
Thanks to BEMAC photographer Camilo Hernandez for these beautiful photos.

I hope now to build on this success and establish an annual Indian Classical Music Festival. With much more lead-time I hope to receive a wider range of sponsorship and funding to expand the event and continue to bring interstate artists to work with local artists.

Totally unexpectedly, the weekend became even more momentous for Yuki and I, as the following day Yuki went into labour and early Monday morning our beautiful daughter Saraswati Grace Flindell was born.