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!


Monday, 23 April 2012

The McGill Tabla Ensemble in Concert

This past Monday evening was the end of semester concert for the McGill Tabla Ensemble, a group that I teach at the Schulich School of Music of McGill University, here in Montreal. The ensemble of 25 tabla players is made up mostly of music majors, but we do have a few students from other faculties in the university. While a few of the students have some prior tabla experience, the great majority were beginners, having only started to play tabla in January. They had to work quite hard in order to put together a performance in only three-and-a-half months! Unfortunately I don't have many photos from the concert, but do have a few from the dress rehearsal earlier the same day.

The McGill Tabla Ensemble in rehearsal.
Aaron Landsberg running through his solo during the dress rehearsal.
The concert started with two of my more experienced students each performing a 12 minute solo. First, Aaron Landsberg opened the concert with a solo in Vilambit and Madhya Teentaal (16 beat cycle), with me accompanying him on harmonium. Aaron opened with a mukhra and a couple of moharas, followed by the famous Delhi kaida, a charbag rela, and ending with a few tukras. The audience was very impressed by the amount of speed and clarity that he was able to develop in the short time that he has been playing; about a year. Next, Emily Thompson played a solo in Rupaktaal (7 beats), again with me accompanying on harmonium. After an introduction of some moharas, Emily played a couple of kaidas, and concluded with an ari tukra and a farmaishi tukra.

Emily Thompson reciting a tukra during the dress rehearsal.

Next, the ensemble of 25 tabla players was on. We played various arrangements of traditional repertoire, re-arranged for the ensemble configuration. A couple of kaidas, and three tukras, all with recitation of bols as well. I played tabla along with the ensemble, accompanied by Dan Garmon on harmonium. The students performed impressively, and played the material with great energy and enthusiasm, which was met with equal enthusiasm from the audience. I was really overjoyed to see amount of people that came out to support the ensemble, and their applause during the performance was very motivating. I'm happy to see Montreal audiences slowly becoming more educated with respect to etiquette at Indian music performances, and showing their appreciation during the performance, not only at the very end. Clara Lichtenstein Recital Hall is quite small, with a maximum capacity around 70 people. Every seat was full, and on top of that we had additional people sitting on the floor in the front, in the centre aisle, and standing along the back wall. It was really great to see the ensemble having such a strong impact at the school and in the community.

In the week leading up to the concert, a few students asked if I'd play a solo as well. I didn't plan on it, as I didn't think it would be appropriate; this concert was intended to showcase the students of the Ensemble, not me. But then, at the end of the concert, one of the students asked out loud, "Who would like to hear Shawn play a solo?" After the applause that ensued, I basically had no choice but to comply. So without any planning or rehearsal, Dan accompanied me for a short solo in Vilambit and Madhya Teentaal. It was great fun, and it was highly motivating to play in front of an audience who obviously had such a great appreciation for tabla! Kudos to Dan for providing such solid lehra with only about a month of experience with tabla solo music!

The McGill Tabla Ensemble in Concert.
For September, we're aiming to increase the size of the ensemble to 30 members. I'm looking forward to continuing to work with some of the students this summer in private lessons and at the tabla workshop at McGill (which is also open to the general public), and again in the context of the McGill Tabla Ensemble once school starts up again in September.

Thank you to Caroline Tabah for the photos!

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Cycles Review in The WholeNote

Today I was really happy to learn that Cycles got a glowing review from Andrew Timar in Toronto's The Wholenote. Click here to read the review.

As always, Cycles is available for purchase here, and is also downloadable via iTunes.