The classical percussion instrument of North India, the tabla, is a popular hand-drum which requires years of intense study and practice to master. The instrument is a male-dominated one, and often associated with strength and power. The number of professional female tabla players in the world is slim.
In March, New Jersey’s institute of classical tabla, the Taalim School of Indian Music, will hold a special concert celebrating women percussionists. The event will coincide with National Women’s History Month, and will be one-of-a-kind in that it will feature only female tabla players. The concert will highlight a special performance by Taalika, the world’s only all-female tabla ensemble. Taalika consists of Sejal Kukadia of NY, Jin Won of South Korea and Heena Patel of Toronto. The three will come together to present a classical tabla trio which was composed especially for them by Indian maestro Pandit Divyang Vakil. Vakil’s work in the world of percussion is legendary. He is the composer of the internationally renown troupe, Talavya; a four-member percussion ensemble which has been mesmerizing audiences for years with their tremendous speed and technical precision. Vakil is known for adding a contemporary feel to classical music. In his works, the richness and depth of classical compositions are presented in an exciting and modern way, allowing the non-experienced listener to enjoy and relate to the music, just as much (if not more) as the experienced listener.
“The work of Pandit Vakil and the Taalim School allows the beauty of tabla to be accessible and enjoyable to countless in our community”, says Kris Srinivasan, a longtime Taalim School parent, and music-lover. “We’re grateful that our children have exposure to this authentic and timeless art.”
Pandit Divyang Vakil plans be in attendance at the March concert and looks forward to hearing the local talent. Taalim School prides itself on the increasing number of female students enrolling in tabla classes. “We’ve never had this many female students, and so we would like to celebrate that,” explains Taalim School teacher and member of Taalika, Jin Won. “The significance of this upcoming concert is to demonstrate that the tabla is no longer a men’s-only club!”
The “Celebrating Women of Tabla” concert is free and open to the public, and will take place on Sunday, March 18, 2012 in Highland Park, NJ. (For more information, visit taalim.com)