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!


Thursday, 19 January 2012

A Busy Fall Season with Santoor Player Jonathan Voyer

This past fall was a really busy time, playing with santoor player Jonathan Voyer. We started the fall with a concert at McGill at the end of September, which I wrote about in a blog post previously. A short excerpt of the performance is now available on YouTube:

Shortly after that, we collaborated with dancer Julie Beaulieu for her choreography Mousson la nuit. Produced by SamskaraMousson la nuit was presented as part of Tangente Danse's season at Usine-C. Choreographed and danced by Julie BeaulieuMousson la nuit depicts Raag Megh, a monsoon raga, coming to life, incarnated through the dancer. Jonathan and I provided the music. This time, however, Jonathan performed as both a santoor player and as a vocalist! The music is traditional, North Indian classical music, with alap (both sung and on santoor), a vocal bandish in Jhaptaal, followed by instrumental gats in Jhaptaal and Teentaal. The dance aspect is contemporary, but with inspiration from the Bharata Natyam tradition.

The four shows were very well attended, and we are looking forward to performing Mousson again in the future.

The week after, Jonathan and I headed to Quebec City for performances at Café Babylone and the Grand Théâtre du Québec.

The next week was the opening of the exhibition Couleurs de l'Inde at the Musée Pointe-à-Callière in Old Montreal. Couleurs de l'Inde is an exhibition of photos by French photographer Suzanne Held. Our CD, Shanta, is the official soundtrack for the exhibition, which runs until April 22.

Later on, in early December, we played at the museum for their annual fundraiser dinner.

Photo by Alain Vandal
With Francine Lelièvre, General Director of the Musée Pointe-à-Callière, and Jonathan Voyer.
Photo by Alain Vandal

What a great fall season it was! We are looking forward to our next concert on February 4, at Timpano-Percussion!

Quebec Jazz Festival with Jacinta Luis

This past October, I had the pleasure to play at the historic Chateau Frontenac in Quebec City as part of the Quebec Jazz Festival. Jazz singer and pianist Jacinta Luis was presenting her new project, Jazz Univers, which is a mix of jazz with her African and Goan roots. It was great fun to accompany her, along with bassist Adrian Vedady, guitarist/sitarist Evan Green, and drummer Claude Lavergne. Aside from tabla, I also played a bit of congas and pandeiro.

Photos by Caroline Tabah.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Celebrating Guru Purnima in London, Summer 2011

Guru Purnima is a very special time of year for any chela (disciple). Usually occurring some time in the month of July, this day is devoted to celebrating the Guru. While I have celebrated Guru Puja numerous times in previous years, this is the first time that I was with Gurujee on the actual day of Guru Purnima, according to the Hindu calendar. For this past year, Guru Purnima fell on July 15.

Photos by Caroline Tabah
Guru-bhais (fellow disciples) and students from all over the UK were in attendance, as well as a couple of us who traveled from North America. Little did any of us know that this would be our last Guru Purnima with Gurujee. Looking back on the photos, we all had a great time, and this day made for some especially fond memories. Gurujee always loved when we all came together, as a big family. A special moment that I will always be thankful for.

Chatting with the Sahai family in Benares via Skype

Photos by Caroline Tabah
Aside from Guru Purnima, I was in London to spend time with Gurujee and continue my tabla studies. While I was there, I accompanied kathak dance classes at Sangeet College, given by dancer Mansi Dabral, and assisted in teaching the tabla classes as well. Surprise, surprise! There was a class concert organised to take place in a week's time at the Harrow Arts Centre, and I was to accompany Mansi in a short performance. Great, but this was a short time to put together a kathak performance!

After all the students had given their performances, we came on stage to conclude the concert. With Dr. Frances Shepherd on harmonium, and myself on tabla, we accompanied Mansi in her performance, which was met by great praise from the audience!

Photo by Deepak Uniyal
Photo by Caroline Tabah
Photo by Caroline Tabah

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Some Photos from the Cycles CD Launch

The new CD!
Photo: Ana Desmond
The CD launch for my new album, Cycles, was held this past November 14 at the Mysore Indian restaurant on Saint-Laurent, Montreal. The event was quite well attended, and I was especially happy that composer Bruno Paquet was in attendance. I performed three pieces from the CD - Paul Frehner's Ke-Te, Bruno Paquet's Les arbres célestes, and Christien Ledroit's Trade Winds (electronic version). Thank you to Bill and Avery from ombu for their hard work in organizing the launch!

Photo: Caroline Tabah

Thanking the crowd for coming out.
Photo: Caroline Tabah

Playing SABIAN Resonating Bells during Trade Winds
Photo: Caroline Tabah
I am very happy to report that so far the album have received two press reviews, from Le Devoir, and from the Bharat Times, and both were very positive! Click here to listen to a clip of the title track from the CD (compressed for the web), Christien Ledroit's Trade Winds, a concerto for tabla with string orchestra, featuring the Windsor Symphony Orchestra.
Photo: Ana Desmond

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Mill Race Festival with Galitcha

Another late posting - This past July 30 and 31, I performed with Galitcha at the Mill Race Festival of Traditional Folk Music in Cambridge, Ontario. During the two days, we were kept quite busy! Two concerts on Saturday and a concert and workshop on Sunday. It's always a pleasure to play with Matt Smith, who joined us on mandolin and slide guitar.

Saturday evening concert with Galitcha
at the Mill Race Festival

In many folk festivals, 'workshops' tend to be more like jams. It's often musicians from a few bands, thrown together on stage based on some sort of theme. We usually end up playing a tune from each band, and jamming on each other's tunes. This was one of the first times where workshop actually meant workshop. For "Instruments of Mass Percussion," Kuljit and I were joined by amazingly talented percussionists Maninho Costa and Luis Orbegeso. We each presented our instruments and the music of their source cultures - Luis on cajon, Maninho on pandeiro, Kuljit on dholki, and myself on tabla. Everyone had such an interesting and engaging way of explaining their instruments and music. I later brought out a kanjira; who knew that it would spawn a samba jam! We also did some jamming on other traditional rhythms from India and South America. All in all, probably the best folk festival workshop that I have participated in to date!

Thanks to the Mill Race Festival for having invited us to perform!

Photos by Caroline Tabah.

OpenMind Festival with sitarist Uwe Neumann

Catching up on some old posts - This past August 11, I had the great pleasure to accompany sitarist Uwe Neumann at the Open Mind Festival in Curran, Ontario. This Eco-Festival includes live music, kirtan, DJs, and various environmental and healing sessions and workshops. Upon arrival, our travel distance was calculated and our parking cost was based on our CO2 emissions! This is the first time that I have seen this approach; I think the festival organizers pass on the money to an organisation that will plant trees to counteract everyone's emission pollution.
Indian classical music workshop with Uwe Neumann
In the afternoon, we gave a 90-minute workshop/performance on Indian classical music. Uwe started with the ektara, explaining the idea of drone and how the overtones contain all the pitches of the scale. We then played a short Bengali folk piece with the ektara. Next, we got into more of the nitty gritty, demonstrating the sitar and tabla, and talking about raag and taal. We played a short classical piece, and afterwards had an interesting exchange with the audience.
Uwe and his huge ektara
Reciting tabla bols during the workshop
Later that evening, we performed a full sitar and tabla concert. It's great to have the time to do a full alap-jor-jhala, with gats in vilambit, madhya, and drut. Uwe was really in the mood and we had some great exchanges. As is the tradition with Uwe, we ended with a short piece on sansa and tabla.

Evening concert at Open Mind

Photos by Caroline Tabah

The worst news...

Pandit Sharda Sahai
Dear friends,

You may have noticed that I have been silent on the blog for a while now. I am sad to report that Guruji, Pandit Sharda Sahai, passed away this past November 20 at Ealing Hospital, London, UK. His loss has been felt the world over, and it has been a very difficult time for all of us who were so fortunate to have known him. Words cannot truly express the loss we are all feeling.

Guruji was renowned as one of the greatest exponents of the Benares baj and pioneered its development worldwide, most notably in Canada, America and the UK. Guruji hailed from five generations of master musicians and whilst he was faithful to the tradition of his ancestors he also was very much a musician of his time.

He profoundly touched all those who came into contact with him with his great wisdom, knowledge and humour. He will be remembered for his spellbinding solo performances, East-West collaborations, and skill and generosity as a teacher. His legacy will live on through his disciples and students and in the Pandit Ram Sahai Sangeet Vidyalaya which he founded in Benares in 1965.

His funeral rites took place in Benares, and memorials were held in London and in Montreal.

Some fond memories:

Ganda-bandh ceremony
Guruji in Montreal, summer 2006

An early photo of Guruji
A memorial page has been set up on Facebook -

Guruji's photo at his home in Benares