Exotic Indian Drums Ensemble Returns to Albany

From left, Kaumil Shah, Rahul Shrimali, Rushi Vakil and Sahil Patel. NOTE: Rahul Shrimali was not present at Thursday's performance. Michael Lukshis and Heena Patel are not pictured here. Photo by Joseph Hammond

From left, Kaumil Shah, Rahul Shrimali, Rushi Vakil and Sahil Patel. NOTE: Rahul Shrimali was not present at Thursday’s performance. Michael Lukshis and Heena Patel are not pictured here. Photo by Joseph Hammond

Published on April 30, 2013

By. Casey So Hyeun Cho

The best percussion ensemble from India Talavya’s second destination for the Spring Fever Tour was held at UAlbany Performing Arts Center on April 25.

Prior to the artist entering the hall, the Harmonium player for the concert Heena Patel introduced the origin of the Indian drum tabla.

According to Patel, tabla was invented 800 years ago, and it has been taken part in India’s classical and modern music.

Tabla is consisted of two drums that are the smaller drum, played with the dominant hand, and the larger drum, played with the other hand.

Four table players were addressed after the explanation of tabla, and those were Rushi Vakil, Kaumil Shah, Sahil Patel and Michael Lukshis.

“Tabla is a wonderful instrument,” said Vakil. “This instrument has its own language.”

Vakil explained that the note of tabla must match what the note that is sung, so performers can speak tabla.

Vakil sang several notes while Patel demonstrated the same notes on his tabla.

Prior to the actual piece, it took more time to tune the tabla than other classical instruments.

Tuning was achieved while striking vertically on the braided portion of the head using a small hammer.

“The instrument is really sensitive and it’s really hard to tune,” said Vakil.

The performers often tuned their instrument during the performance.

Four tabla players and one harmonium player performed “Table Ecstasy” composed by Pandit Divyang Vakil.

It was composed of four acts that are Vilambit Laya, Madhya Drut laya, Drut Laya and higher tempo of Vilambit Laya.

Tabla performers used their fingers really fast to make beats, and used palms, wrists and elbows.

The performers’ facial expressions and hand gestures were alively while Sahil Patel’s smile added more personality to the piece.

After the first portion of the show, Vakil said, “The slowest part is done.” However, the tempo was still quick. Talavya’s performance was very energetic and interactive.

“It’s a competition between audience and us,” said Vakil. “And we are winning big time.”

Heena Patel also taught the audience the term “Gaba” and “Yebat,” which both mean “Wow” to gear up for the energy competition with the ensemble.

“Relationship between artist and audience is important,” Patel said.

After the first act, the audience responded more lively to the music. They clapped their hands and moved their body along with the beat.

It was not difficult to miss Lukshis, a New Jersey Native white male, performing as Talavya.

While the rest of Talavya members have 15 to 25 years of training experience, Lukshis only has been trained for nine years, Patel said.

Even though tabla is not part of Lukshis’ cultural heritage, he has fully immersed himself in Indian classical music, according to the brochure.

Patel told the audience it was Talavya’s second visit to Albany and they “hope to keep coming back.”

At the end of the program, Talavya received standing ovation from the audience, and some of the audience shouted “One more!”

After the show, the composer Vakil made an appearance to the stage.

Tālavya tweeted, “Fantastic show at University at Albany – SUNY. Audience, hall, hospitality, performance all exceeded expectations. Thanks for the love!”

For those of who missed the concert, you could find their music on http://www.talavya.com.

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