Moving my blog over to

Dear friends,

With the recent update of my website, I now have the ability to integrate the blog directly into the website, so that is what I am doing; it just makes sense. I will no longer be posting updates here. Thank you to all of you for your interest in my musical adventures. Please click along to my website for the continuation of this blog in the future! If you would like to update your RSS subscription, this is the new RSS URL:

I hope to see you over at!


Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Summer Tabla Workshop with Pt. Sharda Sahai

Dear friends,

In my last post, I spoke about Pandit Sharda Sahai's performance in Montreal. Now it's time for a small report on his tabla workshop that I hosted at the Schulich School of Music of McGill University. This was the 26th edition of the Annual Summer Tabla Workshop with Pandit Sharda Sahai, and the second one that I have organised, in Montreal. Like last time, Guruji was assisted in teaching by Dr. Frances Shepherd (London, UK), Niel Golden (Victoria, BC), and myself. The workshop took place from June 22 through to July 5.

The workshop included group classes, group practice sessions, a series of three lectures, and two listening sessions. The lectures were open to the public and I was happy to see a few people from outside the workshop in attendance.

Niel Golden opened up the lecture series with a presentation of the tabla in various fusion settings. He is a very experienced tabla player, and over the years has participated in numerous fusion projects. He played recordings of a number of pieces from a variety of artists and styles, ranging from the Beatles to Steve Wonder (!), as well as some of his own compositions.

The next day, we had Todd Hammes, who is a tabla player and Western-trained percussionist, presenting a lecture on Pandit Sharda Sahai and his influence on contemporary Western compositions for tabla. The lecture demonstrated the connection between traditional tabla repertoire and the newly composed repertoire from such composers as Bob Becker, Payton MacDonald, and Robert Aldridge. Rather than use recordings of the pieces, Todd asked me to sit in to demonstrate the compositions for the audience.

The last lecture was presented by Dr. Frances Shepherd on the subject of Guru-shishya-parampara, the teacher-disciple tradition. During the course of the lecture, she presented a video of a recent Guru Vandan ceremony in Benares, in which Guruji was honored by numerous dignitaries and disciples.

The two listening sessions took place during the second week of the workshop. First up was Eric Phinney, who presented numerous audio recordings in order to demonstrate some of the main differences between the tabla gharanas. One of the big topics was peshkar, as opposed to Benarsi theka. He also demonstrated differences in technique and fingering, especially between Delhi and Benares styles.
Ravi Singh gave a presentation on sangat, and used numerous videos to demonstrate his points. He discussed accompaniment of dhrupad, khyal (vocal and instrumental), and lighter forms such as thumri, ghazal, and dadra.

Last, but not least, the workshop couldn't have taken place without the generous participation of Pandit Sharda Sahai, and the 20 students who travelled to Montreal from across Canada and the USA. Students had four tabla classes per week, and daily group practice sessions. The group practice sessions involve all the students, doing technique practice together; a combination of hard work and good fun! We were also fortunate to receive Bob Becker for a few days, a senior disciple of Guruji. In fact, it was Bob who got this workshop series started in Toronto, sometime around 1980.

These annual workshops are a great experience for all involved. Old friends who haven't seen each other since the previous workshop; new friendships forming with first-time participants; overall, a great sense of community and cameraderie. After two intense weeks of playing tabla, everyone was definitely energized and motivated. Until next year!

Pt. Sharda Sahai's performance in Montreal

Hi everyone,

This past summer, I was very fortunate that my tabla guru, Pandit Sharda Sahai came to perform and teach in Montreal. On June 22, he performed a concert as part of the Festival Montreal Baroque. This was the first time that Indian classical music was included in the festival, and Guruji performed to a packed house, accompanied by Pandit Ramesh Misra on sarangi. I am very thankful to the festival's Artistic Director, Susie Napper, who was instrumental in making this concert a success. The concert took place at the Cirque Eloize, which had a great acoustic, and a really nice feeling to it. The tech crew did an amazing job with the sound and the lights.

Hanging out with Niel Golden and Pandit Ramesh Mishra before the concert.

The concert opened with Ramesh-ji performing sarangi solo, accompanied by Niel Golden (from Victoria, BC), who is one of my senior guru-bhais. I was very happy to be playing tanpura for this special occasion.

Niel Golden accompanying Pandit Ramesh Mishra.

In the second half of the concert, Pandit Sharda Sahai performed a tabla solo in teentaal, accompanied by Pandit Ramesh Misra and another of my guru-bhais, Ravi Singh (from Toronto, ON). Again, me on tanpura. :)

From left to right: Ravi Singh, Pandit Sharda Sahai, myself, and Pandit Ramesh Misra.

Prior to this concert was a performance by the early music ensemble, Notturna. I was invited to play tabla with them, Andrew Maruzzella on sitar, and a kathak dancer, for a performance of music from the days of the East India Company in Kolkatta (sorry, no photos). Earlier in the day, I also performed with sitarist Guy Bernier in an outdoor concert of Indian classical music. It was a mix of classical and light classical pieces. Sorry, I don't remember the raga, it was too long ago. :)

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

A Tribute to Pt. Kishan Maharaj

Hi everyone,

The journalist Kavita Chhibber has written an excellent tribute to the late Pandit Kishan Maharaj. Many interesting stories and interviews with leading exponents of Indian classical music. (Aside from the articles, she has also posted a number of audio interviews/webcasts.)

Part One, featuring Pandit Ravi Shankar, Ustad Amjad Ali Khan and Ustad Imrat Khan.

Part Two, featuring Sitara Devi, Pandit Shivkumar Sharma, Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia and Ustad Shujaat Khan.

Part Three, featuring Pandit Sharda Sahai, Pt. Puran Maharaj, Pt. Kumar Bose, Sukhvinder Singh, Sandeep Das and Shubh Maharaj.

Highly reccomended reading!

Coming soon - a report on the 26th Annual Summer Tabla Workshop with Pt. Sharda Sahai held in Montreal!