Let’s all get filmy in Toronto this May

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May ’17 South Asian events in Toronto offer a heady and healthy mix of films, theatre, music and dance. Check out our desi events calendar.

Monday, May 1

Event: IFFSA
Details: Controversial film Lipstick Under my Burkha, Shahrbanoo Sadat’s Wolf and Sheep and dozens of others are part of the line-up. Guess what? Akshay Roy ‘s Meri Pyaari Bindu starring Parineeti Chopra and Ayushman will make its North American premiere e May 15 at the festival. IFFSA runs 11 to 22.
Contact: Here

Event: Ask the Sexpert
Details: Toronto’s International documentary festival 2017 Hot Docs will showcase an array of documentaries from across the globe including Vaishali Sinha’s Ask the Sexpert, a film is about Dr. Mahinder Watsa, a highly popular 93-year-old sex columnist for Mumbai Mirror. The film will screen at Hot Docs May 1 to 3 at the TIFF Bell Lighthouse. Festival runs until Sunday, May 7
Contact: Here 

Friday, May 6

Students from Nachdi Jawani showcase their dance at the Carassauga Festival of Cultures. Photo by Rob Beintema

Event: Nachdi Jawani
Details: Punjabi Virsa Arts and Culture Academy will be hosting its 17th annual Nachdi Jawani Youth Festival, at 1370 Williams Pkwy. Brampton from 10 a.m. until 6:30 p.m. Event will feature gidha and bhangra competitions.
Contact: Here

Event: Taraang
Details: Enjoy a Bollywood musical concert at Glenforest Secondary School, 3575 Fieldgate Dr. Mississauga. The Taraang Ek Sureela Kaarvaan starts at 6 p.m.
Contact: Here

Sunday, May 7

Event: Gujarati Comedy Show
Details: Enjoy a Gujju comedy show at Chinguacousy Secondary School, 1370 Williams Parkway, Brampton at 5 p.m. The three-hour LOL riot features Dr. Jagdish Trivedi.
Contact: Here

Thursday, May 13

Event: Hindustani Music Concert
Details: Raag-Mala Music Society presents Hidayat Khan (sitar) and Manjusha Patil (vocals) at this spring concert at McLeod Auditorium, Medical Sciences bldg., 1 King’s College Circle at 7 p.m.
Contact: Here

Saturday, May 20

Event: Zumba Party
Details: A Bollywood-themed Zumba fitness party is happening at the Harold Braithwaite Secondary School, 415 Great Lakes Dr. in Brampton at 4 p.m.
Contact: Here

Friday, May 26

Event: Carrasauga
Details: Mississauga’s festival of cultures beckons you to take a trip around the world for chump change. While you’re globetrotting, stop by the India pavilion at the Hershey Centre, community rinks at 5500 Rose Cherry Place, Mississauga. Festival runs until Sunday, May 28.
Contact: Here

Saturday, May 27

Event: Malhar SpringFest
Details: Malhar Group will present its annual SpringFest at the Molson Canadian Studio at Hamilton Place, 1 Summers Ln. Hamilton, at 6:30 p.m. Concert will feature: Subhranil Sarkar (sitar), Kaivalya Kumar (vocals), Abhijeet Banerjee (tabla) and Sanatan Goswami (harmonium)
Contact: Here

 

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Sounds from the tabla and taiko will make history in Toronto concert

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On Saturday, April 15 the walls at Greenwin Theatre at Toronto Centre for Arts 5040 Yonge St., will be a site for a concert featuring two ancient far eastern instruments, the tabla and taiko (Japanese drums) featured above. Supplied photo.

Musical savants like Ritesh Das and Kiyoshi Nagata are always in pursuit of cerebral pursuits that confront them into taking journeys that test their craft and creativity.

Ritesh, a tabla maestro and director of the Toronto Tabla Ensemble, through his inquisitiveness and aptitude for all things percussion, has helped bring the tabla into centre stage of mainstream music here in Toronto.

Whereas, trailblazer and innovator, Kiyoshi (taiko soloist and artistic director of Nagata Shachu) has likewise resurrected the powerful sounds taiko, a Japanese drum, in North America and elsewhere to stand irresolutely on its own.

So when the duo decided on a cross-cultural percussion undertaking, it became one for the history books.

On Saturday, April 15 the walls at Greenwin Theatre at Toronto Centre for Arts 5040 Yonge St., will reverberate (hopefully, the theatre has strong insulation) with sounds of tabla and taiko (Japanese drums) in a never-seen-before Toronto collaboration.

Imagine, the massive taiko—a mostly barrel-shaped percussion instruments made with hollowed tree trunk tautly tied with cowhide—and the diminutive, but strong and pure sounds of two skins meeting in ether and forging a harmony of notes. The history-making concert starts at 7 p.m.

“You can play the tabla with any instrument in the world,” said Ritesh, a tabla maestro that has learned with Ustad Zakir Hussain and Pandit Swapan Chaudhari. “The tabla and taiko are two instruments with different sounds. The challenge then was to figure out how one can compose music based on their sound vibrations without losing the integrity and spirit of both.”

That serendipitous meeting:

When Ritesh met Kiyoshi (more than 20 years ago), it was a meeting of two brilliant minds.

The two artistic heavyweights’ musical partnership started in 1994 when they performed as part of Kiyoshi’s world percussion ensemble Humdrum. Then, in 1996, they came together to compose the piece Asahi.

Ritesh

Ritesh Das, a tabla maestro and director of the Toronto Tabla Ensemble. Supplied photo.

This upcoming concert however marks the first time two eastern ancient musical heritages—the tabla and taiko— will interact in such a large-scale on the stage.

“When we first rehearsed just a couple of weeks ago, it really didn’t seem like some 20 somewhat years had passed,” Kiyoshi remarked.

Seeking to create an elusive “something” through the combination of two percussion sounds required Kiyoshi and Ritesh to look beyond their individual musical sight lines. And boy, does it work (check the videos).

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Kiyoshi Nagata, taiko soloist and artistic director of Nagata Shachu. Supplied photo.

Clash of the titans

At the concert, the audience will experience the sounds from different taikos (some are huge and placed on upright stand, while others are flat-bodied) and the several artists playing the tabla.

“In order to compose a music (that will be true to both) you have to have a strong background of understanding your art form first before you start collaborating with someone else,” Ritesh observed. “Imagine the spinal chord as the taiko and the tabla as the ribs that encase it. There was a whole of exploration with the culture and tradition (of the instruments) that went into the planning of this concert.”

The five-and-a-half challenge

The tabla-taiko concert will feature 10 artists bringing the strength of two percussion instruments steeped in history, heritage and the ancient science of Nad (sound) yoga.

“The taiko is a very loud instrument compared to the tabla,” Kiyoshi said. “How do we achieve those balances? I was totally up for the challenge of working on a piece in five-and-a-half. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy but, when you get down to the bare bones and understand the foundation of music, then we can translate that into our own taiko language and that’s where the true collaboration starts.”

OK, here’s quick refresher on what the “five-and-a-half” reference here is.

“Saade paanch (“five-and-a-half” in Hindi) is a rhythmic cycle,” Ritesh explained.

The collaborative piece between the two ensembles is set in a rhythmic cycle of five- and-a half-beats, which is rare in Indian music, but unheard of in Japanese music.

So, how did the two maestros pull off the incredible feat? I guess, you will have to watch the show. Also, a single from Ritesh’s upcoming album, Bhoomika will be released that day.

For tickets and more, visit http://torontotabla.com/ or www.nagatashachu.com.