I'm back home after a very busy few days in Toronto. To start off the weekend, on Friday, October 17, I gave a workshop on tabla and North Indian rhythm at the University of Toronto for the percussion area.
That evening, I gave a solo tabla performance to inaugurate the Toronto Tabla Ensemble's new Baithak intimate concert series. The evening began with 30 minute solo in Teentaal, performed by the TTE's own Razak Pirani, a student of Ritesh Das.
I followed with a one-hour solo in vilambit and madhya Teentaal, accompanied by Parmela Attariwala on viola lehra. Parmela had originally planned on playing violin, but we both preferred the rounder tone of the viola, playing the lehra an octave lower than it would have been on violin. I began with a special, larger tabla, allowing me to play an octave lower as well, at least for the opening of the solo. Afterwards, I switched to the upper octave for the rest of the solo. Here's a short clip of the bhumika and uthaan (the introductory section):
After the solo, there was a chance to exchange with members of the audience, who had many questions about the particularities of the Benares gharana, and Benares-made tabla. I was glad that many people noticed that I tuned my baya to Sa (the tonic), and received some questions about that as well. It's still surprising to me that not all tabla players tune their baya; it has a very significant effect, in my opinion. And, we tune the dahina, so why not the baya as well? Many thanks to the kind folks at the TTE for the warm welcome, especially Riteshji, Melissa, and Razak, who put in a lot of work organizing the evening and making it a great success.
On Saturday, I participated in a panel discussion moderated by Parmela Attariwala, with panelists Melody McKiver and Nicole Rampersaud. The topic was "Ethnocultural Baggage and Contemporary Classical Music." A number of aspects were discussed, including cultural identity, issues of racism, appropriation of culture, and the scope and definition of the term "contemporary classical music." I enjoyed participating, and wish that we had had more time to explore the subject matter! The panel was part of the Music Gallery's X Avant festival.
On Sunday, Parmela and I performed a concert in our cross-cultural duo formation, the Attar Project. We performed a number of pieces from our album, The Road Ahead. Despite the marathon taking place outside, which made it very difficult to access the venue, there was a surprisingly decent turnout, which we were very happy about. Not bad for a Sunday afternoon, and a great way to wrap up a highly musically stimulating weekend!
Thank you to Caroline Tabah, Christien Ledroit, and the Toronto Tabla Ensemble for the photos used in this blog post.