Toronto Tabla Ensemble releases new single ahead of album release
The Toronto Tabla Ensemble (TTE) is back on the scene with an exciting new single titled Bhumika (the Sanskrit word meaning ‘Earth’). This new piece was composed by artistic director Ritesh Das and performed by the highly trained Ensemble members on the tabla, mridangam, ghatam, and other percussion instruments. The melodic instrumentation including sarod and sitar was arranged in partnership with Swapnamoy Banerjee, a renowned sarod player and composer from New Delhi, India.
The single will eventually be the first track on the TTE’s sixth album, also titled Bhumika, which is currently in production and scheduled for release in early 2018. The album emphasizes the technical and energetic nature of Indian rhythms featuring several percussion and melodic instruments in addition to the tabla. The pieces will be augmented with the help of guest artists from other World music traditions including composer and multi-instrumentalist, Donald Quan, and Japanese Taiko master, Kiyoshi Nagata.
Since 1991, the TTE has helped bring tabla to the mainstream music scene in Canada with its innovative concerts and recordings. The Ensemble has produced three music videos and five original albums, including the Juno-nominated Firedance. Its original music has been used in numerous films and commercials, and in 2003 the Ensemble and Ritesh Das were commissioned to create the current theme music for CBC Radio’s daily morning show, Metro Morning.
For more information contact:
Letter from Composer and Artistic Director Ritesh Das:
It is a great joy to work with master musician, Sarod player, and composer Swapnamoy Banerjee. I met Swapnamoy in the late 90’s while he was working with my brother, the late Kathak dance legend, Acharya Chitresh Das. Swapnamoy is like a brother to me and was highly respected by my own brother.
When I decided that the next Toronto Tabla Ensemble album Bhumika would be a tribute to my brother, Swapnamoy immediately came into my mind. Who else could have helped me by contributing to the melody? We share huge memories of my brother in Kolkata from concerts, rehearsals, sharing meals, and laughing at the most hilarious jokes he used to make.
Swapnamoy has fond memories of composing music for the collaboration between Chitresh Das Dance Company and Balinese ensemble Gamelan Sekar Jaya in the late 1990’s. He once said that he never went to perform with my brother but went to practice with him. That is the humility which both of us had and allowed us to learn so much about the art form from a legend. Our connection goes a bit further; his wife also took dance lessons from my father. For the Don Bosco Park Circus boys, Swapnamoy is also a past pupil of DBPC.
I could not produce this album without the support of my Guru Pandit Swapan Chaudhuri, who was also a close friend of my brother. This album has been quite emotional in making so far for me. I thank my dear wife Melissa and my senior students Razak and Shamir for their huge contribution and support. I am also grateful to all well wishers who are supporting us to create this album. Thank you to Toronto Arts Council and Ontario Arts Council for your support. Thank you to Gary Honess of Kuhl Muzik for his expertise in recording.
I will keep you all updated as we move forward with this album.
Letter from Composer Swapnamoy Banerjee
It was 1982. I saw him for the first time in Kolkata, “Shri Chitresh Das”. What a forby character, with a marvellous performance, exceptional footwork, and extraordinary dance form! It seemed to me like a flying jet arrived on the stage and flew away leaving a mesmerising existence after a three hours’ performance. I was spell bound, and from that very day I tamed an earnest desire to play a sarod recital along with his performance.
Since 1976, I introduced my sarod recital with many of the renowned artists like disciples of Shri Shambhu Maharaj:- Ms. Anuradha Guha, Ms. Bandana Sen etc. at a long stretch but my mind was eager to work with him. My hands and fingers wanted to follow his legs, his rhythm, his actions. Unfortunately, at that time I did not get any opportunity to work with him but the desire was on.
Later on in 1990 he came back to Kolkata again. From that very year, he visited Kolkata around November or December every year, for his various performances and returned back to California during February.
In 1990 I got the first opportunity to play a sarod recital in the first programme of Rajya Sangeet Accademy and at Baiji Quarter on Saraswati Puja with him. It was a great pleasure for me. From that time onwards, the word “DADA” (the Elder Brother) occupied its place deep into my mind and he gradually became a part of my life. I used to play regularly with him since then.
In 1996 he offered me to visit California. That was my first landing at California. Although, I visited different places of US a number of times with Shri Birju Maharaj, I did not get any opportunity to visit California before. I stayed at his residence in California. I felt that Dada’s house was my own house and I stayed with my own brother. I was there for three months. Regularly, I involved myself with his daily chores of life like car washing, marketing and other along with regular practice of music. Dada scolded me number of times but it never hurt me.
Without any programme, I spent there three months and practiced sarod with him daily. While returning back to India he came to me and handed over an envelope and told boldly “take it and go back to home”. Surprisingly, he had a different personality. His mind and sole were different from his appearance.
Today, he is no more with us! It is very hard for me to accept the truth! But still the word “DADA” reminds me the lots of memorable days I spent with him.
Today, I got an opportunity, may be it’s a golden opportunity which my “DADA” has himself made for us. Myself and his real brother Shri Ritesh Das (Babua) feel honoured and blessed to publish the CD named “BHUMIKA” as a show of respect to him. We will never forget his blessings, love and affections. I truly claim myself a brother of Shri Chitresh Das (my Dada).
I, Shri Swapnomoy and Ritesh, dedicate “BHUMIKA” to Dada with our Shoto Koti Pranam.
Swapnomoy Banerjee & Ritesh Das.