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, 21 July 2014

ground / terre : In Concert with Xenia Pestova

This past February 15, Xenia Pestova and I presented the inaugural concert of our new duo at the Chapelle Historique du Bon Pasteur, as part of the Innovations in Concert series. The concert, titled ground / terre combined practices of North Indian classical music and new music. Our goal was to create an intimate, embodied experience, deeply influenced by the warmth and intimacy of Indian music. The performance included commissioned work, improvisations, and traditional music.

Innovations in Concert recorded this short promo video, where we discussed the concepts behind the event.

The idea for the duo began when we collaborated for the recording of Nicole Lizée's Metal Jacket, for tabla and harmonium, for my album, Cycles. Xenia has done a lot of work with toy piano, and I thought that since both the harmonium and toy piano are played seated on the ground, that, in additional to their complementary sonic palettes, they would work really well with tabla.

The programme included the world premieres of The Migration of Their Materials, for toy piano and tabla, by Tina Pearson and Something to Say, by Tawnie Olson. Migration combines composed and improvised aspects, and has us focus on our breathing to set the pacing. I play tabla, with some extended techniques, while Xenia plays toy piano, in addition to her voice and the use of combs to imitate bird sounds. Something to Say is a provocative piece for tabla and fixed media. In it, the tabla plays English text, much like how the tabla plays Sanskrit and Hindi in traditional bol paran compositions. Here, the bols are in English, and I try as best as possible to have the tabla 'speak' the words. (It's the words themselves that are provocative...)

We also performed the piece that started it all, Nicole Lizee's Metal Jacket, for harmonium and tabla (one baya and 4 dahinas!); a duo improvisation, which we named terre, making use of all our instruments; and I played a traditional tabla solo in Teentaal, accompanied by Xenia on harmonium. Xenia also played some solos to round out the programme: Three Liturgies by Carlos D. Perales, Gothic, by Ed Bennett, Sonata in D minor K10, by Domenico Scarlatti, and Étude d’après Scarlatti, by Patricia Alessandrini.

Before the concert, I took some shots of our beautiful setup, while Xenia was practicing:

And here are some concert photos by Nick Hyatt of Innovations in Concert:

Performing Nicole Lizée's Metal Jacket
With composer Tawnie Olson
This concert was just the first of many to come. There will certainly be more tabla + harmonium + toy piano coming your way!

Friday, 18 July 2014

Mini Connecticut Tour

A couple of weeks after returning from Bangor, I headed out on a small tour of Connecticut, centred around New Haven. Many thanks to composer Tawnie Olson, without whom this tour would not have been possible.

The first stop was the Educational Center for the Arts, in New Haven, where I presented a workshop on North Indian rhythm, followed by a lecture/recital on tabla in new music. I spoke about some of the existing repertoire and issues of notation, and performed a few pieces, including the US premiere of Tawnie Olson's provocative new piece, Something to Say, for tabla and fixed media.

The next day, we were off to The Hartt School, at the University of Hartford, where I presented a tabla masterclass for the percussion students, hosted by Prof. Benjamin Toth.

The tour wrapped up with a lecture at Yale, organized by Reena Esmail and the Yale Raga Society.

Thank you to Caroline Tabah for the photos!

Short Tabla Residency in Bangor, Wales

This past March, I was invited to perform a tabla recital in Pontio's Music@Bangor series, in Bangor, Wales, UK. I was in residence at Bangor University for a few days, where I rehearsed with local musicians Andrew Woolley and Josephine Wilkin in preparation for the recital. I also gave tabla workshops at the Pontio shop, at Bangor University, and at Ysgol Friars school.

I have to say that Bangor is a beautiful city (feels more like a town), with amazing mountain and coastal views. Everyone was so friendly and welcoming, and my time there just flew by.

My first activity was an Indian rhythm workshop at the Bangor University School of Music. My goal here was to rhythmically challenge the students, and to provide them with some strategies and solutions for approaching complex rhythm. All using concepts from tabla, of course.

I also gave a 'Taste of Tabla' demonstration at the Pontio shop. The shop is Pontio's publicly accessible office space, on Bangor's high street. The shop will often host small, intimate events, as a way of publicizing upcoming concerts, and as a way for performers and audience to interact. It's a great idea, that more arts organizations should imitate.

For the tabla recital, I performed a number of works for tabla by Canadian and American composers. As I typically do, I opened the recital with a traditional tabla solo in Teentaal, as a way of showing the tabla in its traditional setting, and showing the depth and beauty of the repertoire. Something different this time around was the accompaniment, since no harmonium was available locally, I was accompanied by Andrew Woolley on an old electric organ! In the context of this concert of new music, it worked quite well. I then followed with Bruno Paquet's Les arbres célestes, for tabla and fixed media, inspired by Quebec's ice storm of 1998, and then Payton MacDonald's Alap, for solo tabla.

The second half began with Paul Frehner's Ke-Te for solo tabla, followed by the UK premieres of my composition, Bol, which is based on traditional bol paran compositions, and Tawnie Olson's provocative new piece, Something to Say, for tabla and fixed media. The concert concluded with Jim Hiscott's Shadow Play, for which I was joined by talented flautist, Josephine Wilkin.

On my last day, I gave a second 'Taste of Tabla' workshop, for a small group of very enthusiastic music students at Ysgol Friars high school. They had an excellent sense of time, and clapped taal quite expertly!

Many thanks to Xenia Pestova and Pontio for having invited me to Bangor. I hope to return soon!

Also, special thanks to the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec for its financial support.

Thank you to Caroline Tabah for the photos! For additional photos, please visit the Facebook album.

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Fourth Annual Summer Tabla Workshop

This year's intensive summer tabla workshop took place from June 23 through to June 29 at the Schulich School of Music of McGill University. There were students who came from as far away as Ottawa, New York, Michigan, and Massachusetts. A big thank you to this year's wonderful participants, who made it such an enjoyable week!

As always, there were group classes, daily group practice sessions, listening/video sessions, and we ended with a touching Guru Puja. A few of the students got together to make malas (flower garlands), and all brought fruits and sweets for the puja. We talked about the history of the Benares gharana as I introduced the participants to the legendary artists that make up Guruji's family tree. It was really nice having everyone pay homage to Guruji and his family, and I think that everyone really enjoyed the cultural experience. It's so important to honour our teachers, and the rich history of the gharana.

The week just flew by; I can't believe it's over already. Already thinking about next year, which will be the fifth edition!

Thanks to Caroline for the photos! For more photos, please visit the Facebook album.