News & Events

In 2017

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Mick Taylor's announcements

​On 20 November:-

‘Looking forward once again to performing at The Music Room on Saturday 16 December. It will be a very full evening of music and rhythm with Saphwat Simab opening with a short rubab recital and Sanju Sahai presenting a tabla solo. I'm particularly pleased to have as my guest Sanjukta Mitra giving a vocal performance accompanied by Gurdain Singh Rayatt on tabla and Viswa Prakash on harmonium. Sanjukta is representative of the Vishnupur Gharana which she has studied with under her guru Pandit Santanu Bandyopadhyay.

As this might well be my last public performance, I really hope to see as many music lovers and friends attending at this great venue. Please share this notice and encourage advance booking. Thank you.’

On 11 December:-

‘The last time I performed with Sanju Sahai was in 2008 at the  Bhartiya Vidya Bhavan, London. The first time we shared the stage was 1991 – 26 years ago!!! Looking forward to performing at The Music Room this coming Saturday.’

INTRODUCTION BY CAROLINE TAPP:-

A concert worth remembering for more than a lifetime… and we are remembering this after just a few years, it was in December and the weather icy.

Neil and I went on a pilgrimage from Oxford to London, to the “Music Room” in outer London, to go to this most unique and amazing concert but it was very much touch and go whether we would actually get there.

We had a suspicion that this might well be Mick Taylor’s last concert ever, as he was having a battle with a horrible cancer. At the time, I was suffering with flu, while Neil, feeling a bit less ill, was recovering. But this event was too special to miss. We just had to get there somehow; not to go would have been simply awful.

Some Oxford friends at the last moment came to our rescue. Were they ok to take to take two potentially infectious people in their car? They said “no problem” and so dosed up with medicine we went with our friends to Wembley. It was a relief to be driven there and back, as well as a relief and surprise to be going there at all.

 

When we got to the Music Room venue, we found the atmosphere warm and welcoming and there was a festive feel around and about. The stage was like a shrine for music, as it was decked out with beautiful purple and blue curtains, sparkling fairy lights and flowers and there were so many lovely things to look at all around us: amazing Moroccan lanterns, pictures, musical instruments, exotic pots. It was already incredibly awe inspiring even before any music happened… and when the music began... we were spellbound.

For us the whole event has become a treasured memory.

We have updated our original content about this concert. This now includes all the wonderful photos taken by Neil and you can now read the actual words said by the compere and the musicians, who describe themselves and their music. Lastly, we have added youtube links to the performances – please scroll down to find them at the end.

 

Caroline Tapp

November 2021

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Rahmat Simab, owner and creator of The Music Room @ Friends Hearth, spoke to the audience:-

‘Dear Friends, ladies and gentlemen, very welcome. A very warm welcome to Mick for the third time performing this evening. It’s my honour, my pleasure. Umm… the order of the evening is that… for the first half we’ve got a garland of music and a garland of musicians. We start with a Afghan… an Afghani rubab recital. Then it will be a vocal piece followed by a tabla solo. Then we’ll have a short interval and then the main man is going to take the centre stage and we’ll see where he is going  to take us with him. The rubab is going to be played by my beloved son, Saphwat Simab, who’s emerging as probably the best Afghan rubab player in the UK.

This evening is a very special evening for me, as well as Saphwat, because for a long time I wanted Pandit Sanju Sahai… Pandit Sanju Sahai, even though he has asked me not to call him Pandit… but we all know that he is a tabla player of the highest calibre… of the UK… on the international stage… so for Saphwat to be accompanied by Pandit Sanju Sahai is a very big deal for himself, as well as me. So normally the tradition is, as you probably know, the seniors always come last. Umm… for Sanju bhai to accompany Saphwat on the first item… means a lot to me and I am very grateful to him.

 

The second item is a vocal by our beloved lady, Sanjuktaji, Sanjukta Mitra, who’s a British vocalist on the Hindustani classical field. I've had the pleasure of meeting her a couple of times. Last time when Mick performed here, she accompanied him on the tanpura... so this is the first time that I'll have the pleasure of hearing her and it’s a privilege to have her on my stage to sing here; that’s beautiful. Accompanying her on her performance, our young harmonium master, who’s actually a piano master but he is very well-known now and well respected for accompanying very well-known musicians internationally with harmonium... so Rekesh Chauhan is going to accompany her on harmonium, and my beloved friend, Gurdain Singh Rayatt, who is one of the fantastic tabla players of the UK… again he’s going to accompany Sanjuktaji on tabla. The third item will be Panditji, Pandit Sanju, who will be performing a tabla solo and I’m very much looking forward to that and I’m sure you guys are. He will be accompanied by Rekeshji on the harmonium and then after the break we give the mic to Mick and he can…'  "take the mic," said  Mick (laughter).  

So, without further a-do I’ll invite the musicians but just before that I’d like to welcome Alpanaji. Alpana, we have great respect for you for being a fantastic artist and also for looking after our Mick so beautifully, thank you and glad you’re here this evening because last time you were absent… yeah…? And we have Jay, Jay Visvadeva of Sama Arts, who’s a connoisseur of music and has got a lot of experience behind him organising these kind of shows but on a very, very grand scale (places like Royal Albert Hall and Southbank and so on) so for him to come here and be part of this – even in the capacity of the audience – you’re very welcome, and all of you: you’re very very welcome. I’m sure it’s going to be a memorable evening; just sit back and enjoy.

Saphwat Simab (applause)… and Panditji, Pandit Sanju (applause).

Saphwat arrived a bit late so there is no sound check… then he hasn’t even tuned his rubab. Just give them a couple of minutes and then we’re on our way, thank you.’

Saphwat Simab:- 

 

‘Good evening and welcome everybody. I’d like to give a big thank you to Mick and his wife Alpana for giving me the opportunity to play and perform here for you guys.

 

I’ll play a short rubab recital in Raag Yaman, which is a very old composition of the late Ustad Mohammad Omar so I’ve… There’s a few adaptations that I’ve learnt – not directly from our Ustad but from his own recordings – so I hope you’ll enjoy it.

 

It’s a great privilege playing for the first time with Pandit Sanju bhai. So, with your permission of course, thank you.’

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Saphwat Simab introduced his second item:-

 

I will play for you a short Abani folk song or melody, which is actually two songs, which I’ll play one after the other, kind of combining it. The first one is a Farsi song and the second one is a Pashtu song.

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Sanjukta Mitra:-

‘Hello and good evening, everyone. Firstly, I’d like to thank Mickji, our very beloved Mick Taylor, for giving me the opportunity to come and perform here and of course Rahmatji for giving me the stage. It’s been an honour to be here, performing before you, and it’s been an honour having Gurdainji and Rekesh only beside performing… performing beside on the same stage. So, I’m really thankful to all of you, and I’d like to take the permission from Mickji, Rahmatji, Pandit Sanju Sahaiji… and I’ll start off tonight’s performance with Raag Jog. I will be doing a teental composition on Raag Jog, followed by a tarana and finally concluding with a Meera bhajan.’  

After Sanjukta finished her tarana, she took a few moments to introduce the Meera bhajan:

‘I’d like to conclude with a Meera bhajan… it’s based on Raag Ahir Bhairav but not quite; it’s a little bit of deviation from that.’                              

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Rahmat Simab introduced Sanju Sahai:-  

‘Sanju bhai hasn’t been very well… and just I think an hour or so before coming here, he left his bed. So, for him to be here after being so ill...’

 

To Sanju: ‘I'm so, so blessed to have you here. I'll have you again here please on the stage for a fantastic solo that I’ve been looking forward to.’

 

Sanju spoke to the audience:-

‘Good evening, friends. It’s always a pleasure to be here.

 

You hear people say “Rahmat, by the way, he’s a nice man.” They’re all wrong; he’s a very nice man and it‘s very difficult to say no to him. I was actually eating medicine all day, I was sick all night last night… and just praying that I want to be here, to be able to play a few minutes for you, and also for my dear friend Mick bhai. Didn’t want to let him down… So, I’m… I’m not in my best form today but music… to us, is a spiritual form and I’m not here to prove a point, how fast or slow or some magic tricks I can do. So, just listen to it from your heart. I think we’re in the right place, as well. So, forgive me if I make many mistakes and Rekesh is also keeping time for me because, he’s like… what my guruji always used to say… he’s my track, so the track goes anywhere different, the train will go that way… so, it’s a journey we make together. With your blessings, thank you.’

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Mick Taylor spoke to the audience:-

 

‘So, no point in saying good evening anymore; it’s… er… well into the night. But I have to thank you all for being here. It’s… terrific to have people come to listen to us; it’s a… it always amazes me (Mick chuckled).

I… er… I hope you don’t mind me just… just chatting a little bit at the beginning. I… (Mick addressed Sanju) we are both ill tonight, I think. That’s the first thing (laughter).

… I don’t know if you all know? I have had jugalbandi with a rather nasty cancer with Myeloma since diagnosis in 2011. I have beaten some kind of record because I have had seven different chemotherapies. None of them have done what they… what we hoped but… I’m still here and I think the real reason is because of the music and I practice every day and… and I have dates to aim for, December the 16th was one of them in my diary. Whatever happened I had to be here!

So… um… Sanju? I haven’t performed with Sanju since 2008… was the last time we sat on the stage together. Since then, or before then I should say, the first time we sat on the stage was sharing it also with Alpana’s kathak and also with the great guru Sharda Sahai and that was the Commonwealth Institute Theatre 21 years ago… 21 years ago… and since then Sanju has been with us on and off over the years. We’ve had some very good musical adventures and touring and concerts and nice things and… it’s… it’s really great to sit this evening in this place.

So, actually it’s rather nice because tonight already we are hearing all different kind of gharanas,  different styles. We’ve Benares! We’ve had Farrukhabad from Gurdain. We’ve had Afghani raag. And this is what this place is all about. The whole world is coming in to this place and it’s extraordinary work that has been done here and… so, Rahmat, you have invited me this third time. I don’t consider this place a Music Room anymore. It is… it is not Rahmat’s Music Room, it is Rahmat’s Darbar and so in honour of his work, I’m going to begin my recital with a short rendition of alap in Raag Darbari (applause).

Darbari is an extraordinary raag. It was introduced by dancing from the court of Darbar and it was… of course, for the Darbar. But it has a peculiar feeling… um… it is soothing. It should be played slowly and it has a soothing effect, in fact, actually it could even send you to sleep; let’s hope not (!) but that’s the idea. It has that kind of tranquil, soothing effect. After that I’ll choose something… something appropriate. So, thank you for coming to listen and please forgive me if I don’t play my best. Whatever is here, I’ll try to deliver, so alap in Raag Darbari, thank you.’

Mick Taylor's second item:-

‘I’d like to now play in Raag Charukeshi. Charukeshi is a very interesting raag from the Carnatic system, which was introduced in to Hindustani music, and so there are so many compositions and ways of interpreting Charukeshi… so many ways. It has flavours of so many raags, particularly it has a flavour of Raag Darbari but it just changes the order of some of the notes. It has all kinds of… er… it has Basant Mukhari, it has Bairavi, it has so many different raags, flavours of… and combined, and it’s a very… I think a very pleasant raag and I hope that… I'll play a slow composition in vilambit to begin with, in teentaal and develop

from there. Thank you, Charukeshi.’

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 Afghanblooms has published videos from this concert. Please see the links to them below 

AT A CONCERT IN THE MUSIC ROOM

ON 16 DECEMBER

 At One World Festival on 18 and 19 November 

One World Festival (Alive in the Museum)

by

Caroline Tapp

 

Oxford Tabla dropped in at this event to see what was going on. Spread over Saturday and Sunday of 18th and 19th November, it was in part triggered by the wonderful exhibition “Imagining the Divine”, which features Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism and how these five great faiths interacted with each other globally and across the centuries and partly by the Diwali  celebrations for the festival of light, "exploring how light, music, dance and food connects communities and faiths"

and on Saturday there was  a tour of the special exhibition "Imagining the Divine, Art and the Rise of World Religions".

A flexible programme was spread across the galleries, including art by Anne-Marie Cadman, with the main events in The Atrium itself, which offered a full programme, where on the Saturday the “Oxford Hindu Temple and Community Centre Project (OHTCCP)” held sway with firstly a Pooja to Lakshmi, bhajans sung by various people at different times (some with tabla accompaniment), speeches, invocation dances to Lord Ganesha and Lord Krishna, and Indian Classical Dance, using well-known local musicians and dancers including Chris Hills, Sneha Anand, Athiswari Vadivale, and Aarti and Priya Jagannath. The OHTCCP stayed until the end of the day on Saturday, introducing Chandra Vadivale, who spoke on Imaging the Divine in relation to Imagining the Divine and also introducing Shaunaka Rishi Das, who covered ‘What Has Hinduism Given The World?” and included mention of Greek philosophy, saying it was more well-known than Indian philosophy but that it was Indian philosophy that had spread to the east, to China and Japan, and the subject of Zero, amongst other things in some depth and Mahatma Ghandi, and invited people to look at the online courses given by the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies currently enjoyed throughout the world.

 

It would have been a hard task for anyone to leave one thing to see another activity going on at the same time – Rangoli patterns were going on by Kashmira Patel and there was an all-day, 2 day drop-in event by the Oxford Civic Society, on how to make Oxford a better city in which to live, work, study and play. There was Buddhist yoga, a Thai Buddhist Mahajanaka Presentation, Adhan Call to Prayer, Mindfulness Meditation, Asr Muslim Prayer, and Performances by Sikh Shabad – these were happening during the day and not least an Activity Trail: “Objects of the Pooja” hosted by the OHTCCP. This was all absolutely fascinating but of course Oxford tabla concentrated on the music but please see programme below for a comprehensive list of all activities on both days.

 

On the Sunday there was another full programme in the Atrium. Instead of the Dhol drumming as featured in the programme there was a performance of Persian/(fusion?) music by an Oxford band called Delnavaz. They are a female and male duo of instrumental, vocal and Indian tabla – I think they performed Persian love songs. She has a wonderful singing voice and plays a stringed instrument that resembles a form of lute. This music was to a large extent in competition with a performance of Pothwari Folk Music, and Sufi poetry, presented by Oxford Council of Faiths in the Islamic Art 31 section of the museum. The three musicians performing Pothwari were from the midlands and included a singer, who accompanied himself with a sitar, unusually held upright, a harmonium player and a ghatam player, who wore a bell strap (“ghungrus”) like the dancer’s … on his right wrist. They made powerful music, and on my hovering between this gallery, Islamic Art 31, and the Atrium below, the mix of sounds from Delnavaz and the Pothwari Folk Musicians was stunning. However, I think that the musicians in Islamic Art 31 might have been distracted by the sounds of Delnavaz and vice versa but I believe that the two groups eventually learned to tolerate each other. In any case both sets of musicians were interesting and had to share their audience.

 

Oxford Tabla saw Chinta Kallie from the Hindu Community, who had been hosting all Saturday’s events in the Atrium, coming down the steps into the Atrium on Sunday, and had not been aware that she had just been one of the speakers in the Panel Discussion in the Lecture Theatre giving a presentation on the Hindu aspects of her life, entitled “Living Faith” along with other presentations by people from other religions, which was part of an interfaith panel which had been going on between 12 and 1.

 

In the Atrium there followed some Chinese music and dancing with vividly dressed performers in silks, which we saw in part just before we left the museum for the day. Other interesting performances we missed were by the Oxford Jewish Community choir, Oxford’s Afropean choral group and the Tariqa Burhaniyya Hadra – a Sufi Tariqa from Sudan.

 

What a wonderful couple of days and I must still mention the tour “Jewish Treasures of the Ashmolean”, the Arabic Calligraphy Workshop, the storytelling “Woven Threads and Torn Fabric” (a Muslim/Jewish version of the Joseph story) and the Geometric Greeting Card workshop. Alas there were other activities on the Sunday which I think I have not listed but they will be in the full programme below and I just wish we could have seen more but…

Photo credits: NK and CT

Garba dancers 

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 At a Sarod & Tabla Concert on 3 November

Photo credit: NK

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On 3 November we were 'In The Moment' with David Trasoff (sarod) and Prabhu Edouard (tabla).  

This was a delightful concert of musical artistry, spontaneity, melody and rhythm, and there were solos by both performers (with Prabhu keeping his short and fast).

The programme was:

 

Raag Hem Bihag

Raag Pilu

Bhati Ali (a Bengali folk song)

 

Before the folk song the audience were invited to ask questions of the performers, so there were some questions. A lady asked how much of the raga is improvised (and how much is composed)? David Trasoff answered that the Raga is a whole entity in itself, comprising of melody, mood, colour, rhythm and so on, which is a particular idea. He added that you can see it like a hologram - every bit or place

you look at is an image of the whole thing. The lady questioner responded by saying that she was beginning to get it. Prabhu Edouard added that the piece of melody which is repeated while he is playing tabla solo is what is composed.

We enjoyed being in the Brunei Gallery of SOAS for this concert. It's a venue we do like a lot. 

 

Hem Bihag

Arohana: 'Ni Sa Ga Ma Pa Ni Sa'

Avarohana: 'Sa Ni Dha Ma Pa Ma Ga Ma Re Sa'

 

In Bihag, for comparison:-

Arohana is 'Pa Ni Sa Ga Ma Pa Ni Sa'

Avarohana is 'Sa Ni Dha Pa Ma Ga Ma Ga Re Sa'

 

Pilu

Arohana: 'Pa Ni Sa Ga Ma Pa Ni Sa'

Avarohana: 'Dha Pa Ma Ga Ma Pa Ga (komal Ga) Re Sa Ni Sa'  

 Independence Day Concert in Oxford on 29 October

The Oxford Indian Performing Arts Centre and the Oxford India Society celebrated the 70th year of India's independence with a live Hindustani music concert by Kirpal Panesar (esraj), Pulkit Sharma (tabla) and Prabhat Rao (vocals) at St. Anthony's College, Oxford on 29 October.

Unfortunately three video snatches of this concert have become unavailable but a flavour of the actual concert can be gained from the trailer below:-

We were guests of Shawn Mativetsky at his summer workshop in Montreal between 26 June to 2 July. It was great to be back again. 

Photo credits: NK

 At Shawn Mativetsky's Summer Workshop

in Montreal

Seen from on-high, here is one of the lions guarding

the Schulich School of Music of McGill

 At MIM in Phoenix on 15 May 

On 15 May we took a day trip to the MIM and had a fascinating time exploring the following sections of this wonderful  museum:

South Asia

East Asia

Central Asia

South East Asia

 MIM hosts 6,600 exhibits from across the world - we must visit again to see the rest of the world!

Please scroll down to see photographs we took on our visit to this wonderful museum. They are grouped as

Bangladesh

Nepal

India

Devotional

Pakistan

Afghanistan

 Photo credits: NK and CT

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Goodbye MIM and thank you for a trippy feast of musical instruments. We look forward to our return one day.

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 At a Concert of Sufi Qawwali Music on 7 May 

On 7 May we saw and enjoyed Fanna-Fi-Allah in the venue of the Jacqueline du Pré Music Building of St Hilda's College.

 

What was of special interest to Oxford Tabla about Fanna-Fi-Allah was the female tabla player, Aminah Chisti. A student of Ustad Dildar Hussain, she is, we believe, the first female tabla player to be playing in the sacred tradition of Qawwali. She is also Western but by no means is she the first Western female tabla player, as some might believe.

 

Fanna-Fi-Allah presented their music energetically, contentedly and with much finesse and panache.

Photo credits: NK

 Oxford Tabla played at the OIWF Dinner on 13 March

Credit for this photo: SP

I played a short tabla solo with a vocal lehra by Neil. It was my presentation of a gat.

Credit for the three photos below: NK 

Aarti Jagannath of

Kala Arpan 

Athiswari Vadivale 

Asnah Belly Dancers

At Shawn Mativetsky's solo tabla concert on 3 March 

Photo credit: NK

We had a very enjoyable listening time at Shawn Mativetsky's 'Rivers' album launch on 3 March, in the London Nehru Centre. This was a solo tabla recital, comprising a rhythmic journey to Varanasi, with accompaniment by Ustad Surjeet Singh on sarangi.