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".

Various events April-July 2016

Since returning from our trip to India Feb-April 2016, things have really been picking up in my professional life. A lot of new tabla students joined my lessons and they are all learning very well, and almost all the older students have shown greater enthusiasm too. June in particular was an amazing month in which I got to accompany 3 separate international artists: Carnatic vocalist OS Arun in a devotional concert, sarangi master and regular musical partner Sangeet Mishra, and amazing sitarist Pt Kushal Das. More on the Kushal Das concert in my next post...

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

India 2016

From late January to early April 2016, Yuki, Saraswati and I had a grand old time in India, beginning in Kolkata, spending most of our time in Varanasi before having a little holiday in Rishikesh and our final few days in Delhi.

In Kolkata we stayed with our friend Supriyo Dutta, an excellent classical vocalist. He invited us to his concert while we were there and Yuki played tanpura. We're very happy that we can bring Supriyo to Australia for Woodford Folk Festival later this year!

We arrived in Varanasi shortly before Saraswati Puja, and I performed in a tabla group and then vocal accompaniment for the annual Basant Panchami concert in my old guru-ji's house.

Pt Pooran Maharaj came to perform at Sangeet Mela 2015 last September, and he reciprocated by inviting me to perform tabla solo at his house for his annual Sangeet Sabha Kashi concert. Pt Pooran Maharaj learnt a lot from his grandfather, Pt Kanthe Maharaj, also the guru of my principal guru-ji Late Pt Kaviraj Ashutosh Bhattacharya. So I was very blessed and honoured to have the opportunity to take lessons from Pooran-ji, and to perform in his historical home. 

Also while in Varanasi, we attended many concerts including those of Pt Shiv Kumar Sharma, Sakhi (Kaushiki Chakraborty's all-female classical based group), and the annual Dhrupad Mela. I also participated in a couple of workshops with pakhawaj players - Tetsuya Kaneko's introductory pakhawaj workshop, and Sukhad Munde's taal workshop. We really enjoyed meeting Sukhad-ji and he was certainly one of the bright lights of the Dhrupad Mela.

I had a few more concerts while in India. The big one was joining the Kathak dance group of Smt Malti Shyam, at the annual Ashu Babu Memorial Concert on Tulsi Ghat. She had her established tabla player there of course, but I got to play along where I could and had a small solo as well. I had tabla tuned in Pancham to add to the tonal quality of the music, and mainly just tried to play Dhas in the right place rather than make a mess trying to catch difficult compositions!

I also had fun playing with bansuri player Shyan Kishore in Vegan & Raw Restaurant, a much more casual and fun gig.

From Varanasi we went to Rishikesh and enjoyed 12 days of sunshine and spare time. We spent a lot of time with Shivam Rath and Mico Sundari, who play beautiful devotional music based on Indian classical music with their own rock sensibilities infused. We played a concert on the Parmath Ashram ghat by Ganga which was quite a treat.

Various events Sep 2015 to Jan 2016

This blog is like a record of all the shows and special events I'm up to. I notice that just like this time last year, I'm about to post photos of my annual tabla school concert, and find I haven't blogged in yonks. So here's a list of what happened between Sangeet Mela 2015 and our 2016 India trip:

SEP 2015
  • Sun Sep 20 Oxley: Tabla Workshop with Pt Pooran Maharaj - Following Sangeet Mela 2015, we hosted a tabla workshop for my students with the festival's featured tabla master, Pt Pooran Maharaj. In the morning the young students came for a short lesson which was mainly in the way of getting blessing and meeting a great master in our lineage. Then the intermediate students had a couple of hours before lunch, and then more advanced students after lunch. It was a great experience for the students to get a flood of knowledge from a great master, and to sit for a long time. 
  • Sep 24: Flew to Japan for my sister-in-law's wedding. It was a beautiful event. Also while in Japan I got to meet a few old friends which was very nice.

OCT 2015

NOV 2015

DEC 2015

Participating in a radio interview show with various drummers, hosted by Geoff Wood of ABC RN's "Rhythm Divine" programme.

JAN 2016