The Festival of Tabla was launched in 2017 in California and spotlighted a cast of 19 presentations over two days. The festival featured a cornucopia of instruments; tabla, sitar, santoor, bansuri, sarangi, vocal music and visual arts brought by excellent musicians, ranging from masters to students with the youngest presenter being only eleven years old. For the first time, it also featured visual Fine Arts by Mala Ganguly and Kamaljeet Ahluwalia.
“Festival of Tabla is a genre-specific platform where the language of Taal (Tabla ) and percussion instruments are the primary content with complimentary presentations offered by instrumental, vocal and dance,” says organizer Rupesh Kotecha. “This year’s festival falls around Guru Poornima, and so we collectively celebrate the Guru within, the Guru of foresight and our respective Gurus. As a dedicated tabla weekend, we receive valuable recognition from local and global music enthusiasts as the festival is proving to be a horizon for deeper connectivity, where musicians champion musicians, hence imbibe in our young, such exemplary virtues of parampara, the same for the guardianship of our heritage.”
The Festival of Tabla features 32 visionary artists ranging from advanced learners to masters of the art like Pandit Swapan Chaudhuri and the son of legendary Ustad Ali Akbar Khan, Alam Khan, along with Pt. Vijay Kangutkar, Pt. Sadanand Naimpalli, Pankaj Mishra, Pt. Sanatan Goswami and a host of other great artists. Aspiring artists and students from Canada, New York, India, Scotland, San Francisco and Los Angeles have been carefully assessed, filtered, and invited.
India Currents had the opportunity to speak with Festival founder, Rupesh Kotecha. Here is an excerpt from this conversation.
Where do you see the Festival going in 5 years?
It would be great to see the concept spread to other states and countries. I’d like to partner with organizations in other countries and have the Festival of Tabla™ on the same date, under one identity, at the same time around the whole world. I suppose it would be like global Taal prayer/tribute to the Gurus of Tabla and Sangeet as a whole.
How do you plan to sustain the Festival?
We have a few sponsors who see the value in this unique Festival and we receive support from friends and family. This year, we are supported by Lohana Community USA, the Manek Family, Shankara Dance Academy, Deo Foundation, Vilas Jadhav, Chollera Family and our foundation members.
We are applying for grants and corporate sponsorships for the 2019 Festival to help us grow and keep its core purpose alive. The main agenda will be to sustain the energy, to keep the event going until the new generation steps in and takes the lead.
We strive to share the arts of Indian classical music and particularly the art of Tabla. The Festival of Tabla is this platform, guided by our humble organization called the Ravi & Shashi Bellare Arts Foundation, a not for profit organization.
Tell us a little about this Foundation
The Ravi & Shashi Bellare Arts Foundation is a registered non-profit organization established in 1992. My wife, Mona and I, set up the organization with sentiments of gratitude to my Gurus and family.
The Ravi & Shashi Bellare Arts Foundation carries the inspirations and memories of my Guru’s Pandit Ravi and Shashi Bellare, twin brothers, who were the first to introduce Tabla duet playing back in the 1940s. Both brothers were unquestionable performing artists as well as Gurus, and they are fondly remembered.
Ravi Bellare was a multi-talented musician, dancer, a scholar of the arts, and visual artist. Shashi Bellare was an accomplished accompanist to Pandit Ravi Shankar, Ustad Ali Akbar Khan and numerous masters of the 19th and 20th century. The brothers are the nephews of Pandit Taranath Rao who was a maestro of the Tabla and taught at California Institute of the Arts for more than 15 years from the 1970’ onwards. Pandit Taranath Rao developed and taught the twins the art of Tabla Jugalbandi.
India Currents, a partner of the Festival of Tabla, encourages the Festival followers and all heritage arts enthusiasts from around the world to bring onboard your friends, families, groups, communities and allies to stay in touch with all things classical.
A shout out to the Kotecha family that says ‘’ Let’s spread the love of the Indian classical arts together.’’
See the full festival schedule here.
2017 Festival picture gallery here.
Buy your tickets HERE.
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