‘Dimensions of Tabla’ with Guru Shantilal Shah Captivates Houston Audience

Group photo after the performance.

By Jigisha Doshi

A packed house at the Stafford Civic Center resonated with the vibrant rhythms and melodies of Dimensions of Tabla. Organized by the Indian Music Society, Houston, and led by the esteemed Guru Shantilal Shah, the event showcased the crucial role of tabla players in enriching musical performances.

The evening began with a warm welcome by emcee Jigisha Doshi, who set the stage by the importance of patience and attentiveness in experiencing the intricacies of classical music. She also introduced and acknowledged the tireless efforts and commitment of the distinguished Guru Shantilal Shah.

In September 2023, Pandit Shantilal Shah completed an astounding 20 years of teaching in Houston. Thanks were given to those who have supported him, including Dr. Rathna and Anil Kumar of Sanskriti, Shri Ravi and Hema Iyer of Swaralayam arts forum, and Mr. Govind Shetty and Mr. Suresh Shenoy of IMS Houston. The tabla community is
grateful for his dedication, passion, and invaluable musical legacy he has imparted. The concert unfolded with four distinct performances, each showcasing a different dimension of tabla accompaniment.

The evening started with a mesmerizing solo performance by Dhruv Vishwanath, accompanied by Tejas Rode on the harmonium. His presentation of a traditional Tabla solo, including Peshkar, Kaidas, Rela, Tukras and Chakradaars in Teentaal demonstrated his technical prowess and captivated the audience.

Chethan Anant on bansuri and Arun Sabapathy on tabla presented a captivating display of instrumental collaboration. Chethan played Alaap, Jod and Jhala in the rare raag Maalgunji followed by a gat in Rupak and fast tempo Teentaal. He concluded his performance with a semi classical piece. Arun maintained a fast pace and responded swiftly to the nuances of the bansuri, showcasing the mental agility and skill required in
this accompaniment.

Vocalist Shamik Bose was accompanied by Jason Zinn on tabla and Tejas Rode on harmonium. They mesmerized the audience with their sensitive and nuanced performance. Shamik Bose presented a vilambit khayal and drut bandish in raag Jog followed by a Hori. Jason beautifully complemented the emotional journey of the vocalist with a steady and powerful theka, highlighting the importance of understanding the raag and adapting to its changing moods and rhythms.

The final performance featured a graceful Kathak dance by Ekta Popat, accompanied by Anuraag Shah on tabla, Aparna Shah on vocals, Shaily Bhandari with padhant, Tejas Rode on harmonium, and Chethan Anant on flute. Ekta Popat started her kathak performance with a Shiv Vandana, followed by taal Rupak, a thumri and lastly a Tatkar
in drut teental where she was joined by two of her students. Anuraag led off with a powerful solo which set the tone for the performance. Throughout the dance items, he showed his prowess with his expressive accompaniment and creative solo pieces.

Dimensions of Tabla served as a powerful reminder of the significance of tabla accompaniment in Indian classical music. The concert showcased the performers’ virtuosity and educated the audience about the intricate relationship between musicians and their instruments. This memorable event will inspire future generations to appreciate and learn this unique art form.