The Indian Diaspora Festival is set to premiere at the Palmerston Library Theatre on August 15th, 2014, coinciding with the anniversary of India’s Independence Day. Launched by Canada’s preeminent tabla teacher and founder of award-winning Toronto Tabla Ensemble, Ritesh Das, it will feature performances in Indian music and dance forms, tabla and kathak. It is the first festival of its kind to embrace artists of Indian traditions who have been educated entirely in the West, as opposed to India where most prominent performers have been trained.
Launching the Indian Diaspora Festival is one of many ways Ritesh Das has been working to preserve the Indian culture and pass it on to the next generation in Canada. Commenting on the festival launch, Das said, “My dream becomes reality in honouring and presenting Indian Legacy.”
The festival premiere at the Palmerston Library Theatre will consist of performances in the Indian musical tradition of tabla and classical dance tradition of kathak. The first half features a traditional solo performance by Razak Pirani, who has been studying tabla in Toronto with Ritesh Das for six years. The second half features Los Angeles based kathak dancer, Rina Mehta, who studies under living legend, Pandit Chitresh Das. Rina is an award winning kathak performer and teacher who works in the arts full time. Having been trained in North America, both of these artists demonstrate the quality of education in these arts that is upheld outside of India.
Indian classical music and dance forms are now prominent worldwide thanks to the work of musical legends, Pandit Ravi Shankar and Ustad Ali Akbar Khan. The establishment of the Ali Akbar College of Music in the United States created a legacy of high quality education which has been going strong for almost 50 years. This legacy has continued with maestros Ustad Zakir Hussain, Pandit Swapan Chaudhuri, and Pandit Chitresh Das among those continuing to preserve the education and culture here in the West.
The festival founder, Ritesh Das, is one who has benefitted from the teachings of these great masters being the student of tabla maestro, Pandit Swapan Chaudhuri, as well as the younger brother of kathak maestro, Pandit Chitresh Das. Drawing from his rich background and training he has been able to deliver North Indian classical music training that is unique throughout Canada. Das founded the Toronto Tabla Ensemble in 1991 and since then has given the North Indian classical art form a place in popular Canadian music. For more information on the Toronto Tabla Ensemble visit www.torontotabla.com or call 1-888-958-2252.
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