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Tabla virtuoso Ritesh Das holds the stage


The distinctive opening notes of CBC Metro Morning News were composed by Juno-nominated tabla virtuoso Ritesh Das. “Co-composed with Donald Quan, in 2008,” clarifies Das, not one to take all the credit. “They wanted new theme music that was multicultural and we included other instruments, not just the tabla.”

Born in Kolkata in a family steeped in the arts, Das moved to Los Angeles at the age of 22 to perform as a musician in the Aman Folk Ensemble. He was encouraged to move to Canada by his teachers and brother who talked about how open it was, how there was so much cultural activity. Inspired by their words, Das visited Toronto, and loved it.

“Of course, that was during summer! I loved the architecture, the people. Everyone was so warm.”

Das moved to Canada in 1987 and began teaching tabla full-time. He had a vision. He wanted to open a tabla school, start an ensemble, collaborate with world artistes. He wanted to bring the elegance of the instrument of his choice to centre stage.

Das founded the Toronto Tabla Ensemble (TTE) in 1991 and  has toured Canada many times as well as touring Australia and Europe. The TTE has performed at numerous jazz and folk festivals, appeared on television and hisalbum, Firedance, received a nomination for the Juno Award for Best Global Album. He was awarded the Roy Thomson Hall Award of Recognition and served on the music committee of the Toronto Arts Council from 1996-1998.

Das is now helping create a love for music in the next generation through the Toronto Tabla Youth Ensemble. He teaches his students to value and maintain their culture, encouraging them, for instance, to take their parents’ blessings before an exam.

He tells those who want to pursue music full time to do it if they are willing to give it their all. To practise, practise, practise.

“Practice will show you the path. Through it you will learn not only the music, but also about yourself. Don’t run after money, go after the art form and money will follow. Don’t learn something to impress others, that is not the right reason. Satisfy yourself.”

 

Posted: Jan 4, 2020

February 2020

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