The Tabla Ensemble of Toronto is racing for a rhythmic 2022 with “Encore 21”


Can the burst of fresh energy and the promise of possibilities that a New Year brings be embodied in a song? The Toronto Tabla Ensemble, nominated for the JUNO Awards in Canada, has their fingers on the right beat to get you on your feet and dance through 2022 with their new single and video, “Encore 21”.

Featuring high velocity tabla and other percussion, as well as the rapid recitation of tabla bols (language) by TTE founder and songwriter Ritesh Das, “Encore 21” has the power to propel anyone into a happy state of reverie. However, performing this composition requires a sobering amount of skill and practice.

“I originally wrote this piece for the Youth Ensemble,” says Das. “A quick, high-energy line-up to keep their chops in as we slowly emerge from the pandemic and re-prepare for in-person shows. “

“Encore 21” is the second single from the 8th album of the ensemble For the Love of Tabla, due for release in March 2022. It is a multidisciplinary and joyfully collaborative effort between teachers, students of all levels and artistic colleagues.

“I worked with my tabla student Kolston Gogan who is a professional drummer to work on the drum parts of the kit and also for him to work with Jishnu Parekh, a young member who had just started to learn the drums”, notes Das.

If “Encore 21” lives up to its name and sounds like a jubilant finale to a TTE live, it shouldn’t be surprising. It’s certainly not Melissa Das-Arp, director and director of TTE.

“When I heard this piece, the speed and energy reminded me of a typical reminder that the Toronto Tabla Ensemble would play at the end of a performance,” notes Das-Arp. “This usually involves the entire cast of TTE, including the dancers on stage led by Ritesh Das himself at the microphone leading the performers and rocking the audience so that they literally stand up.”

The memory of her husband vocally leading the end-of-show celebrations prompted Das-Arp to ask her to record and add the recitation of the tabla bowls which became a key part of “Encore 21”.

“Ritesh obeyed my request and recorded his ‘recitation’, which is basically the language of the tabla,” she says. “However, the way he weaves the melody and the feelings together is one of a kind.”

Das-Arp also found inspiration a century ago to create the unique and artfully retro video for “Encore 21”, which features Ritesh Das playing tabla bowls, members of TTE on tabla and kit kits. drums and Kathak dancers from Ontario and California.

“As I listened to the song, the performers’ visuals started showing up to me in a vintage black and white look and I was like, ‘I wonder what this type of show would be like 100 years ago’? ‘back then there weren’t any smartphones and we really only saw what was organized from a mostly western perspective. Who knows what really happened and maybe shows like this happened. is actually produced.

Of course, producing and directing a music video during our pandemic presented unique challenges for Das-Arp and the artists.

“All the artists filmed themselves from home under the direction of assistant director and member of the Ensemble Shamir Panchal,” explains Das-Arp. “Directing virtually is never easy, but with mood boards, rehearsals and the direction of a scenic plot, we were able to create a music video that makes it feel like we’re all together on stage. “

“Kathak dancer Labonee Mohanta was joined by her young student Anusha Kapoor and during their filming they lost power for 5 hours,” she continues. “Luckily they had back-up batteries to keep going, but instead of being able to take multiple photos, they were only able to take a few that looked more like a real show where you really only get one chance. . “

In addition to performing there, Ritesh Das also helped create the video using his skills as a photographer to help set the stage in a 1920s film set. “If I didn’t like music so much and teaching tabla, I would have been a photographer, ”he says. “I like to play with lighting and shadows, especially black and white.

Sending off 2021 with an exciting new single and video and ramping up to 2022 with a new album on the way shows the pace is moving forward and up for the Toronto Tabla Ensemble.

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