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!