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100 tabla players perform near Ithaca, NY, waterfall

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abla players from the Taalim School of Indian Music performing at the Robert H. Treman State Park in Ithaca, New York, on September 22.
Tabla players from the Taalim School of Indian Music performing at the Robert H. Treman State Park in Ithaca, New York, on September 22. Conducting in the background is Pandit Divyang Vakil (green shirt). Photo credit: Taalim School of Indian Music

The “Rhythmic Freefall,” conducted by Pandit Divyang Vakil, celebrates the relationship between music and nature.

The Robert H. Treman State Park in Ithaca, New York, witnessed a unique musical performance on September 22, featuring 100 tabla players from different parts of the United States and India.

The “Rhythmic Freefall,” an afternoon full of musical and visual spectacle, with synchronized beats that filled the alongside Enfield Falls, celebrated the relationship between music and nature. The event was hosted by the Taalim School of Indian Music,  a performing arts organization that has many branches in US northeast.

“Rhythm is all around us” — that was how Pandit Divyang Vakil, the founder of Taalim School, described the event. “Rhythmic Freefall is about merging man made rhythms with natural rhythms — becoming one with nature through sound.”

Vakil, popularly known as “Guruji,” conducted the performance.

The event was a recreation of a similar performance Vakil conducted at the Jhanjari waterfall, near Ahmedabad, India, his hometown. The tabla players who performed came from, besides New York, neighboring states of New Jersey and Pennsylvania, Georgia and India.

The performers started with a verbal chanting of tabla rhythms, with the humming of the waterfall in the background. The percussionists then played the rhythms on tabla.

“The music became a force of nature unto itself, heavy and hypnotic,” said Sue Winkler, who was in the audience.

“When we began Taalim School in the US in 2002, tabla was not as well-known as it is today,” said Sejal Kukadia, said Taalim School faculty member and a disciple of Vakil. “This event is not just a celebration of the school, Guruji, and our work, but also a way of celebrating the diversity that exists in the US and how different cultures add beauty to artistic life in this country.”

In addition to Kukadia, a number of students of Vakil, many of whom are also part of the Taalim schools’ faculty, were instrumental in hosting the event. They include Michael Lukshis, Jin Won, Kaumil Shah, Ray Belli and Heena Patel.

 


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