News & Events

In 2019

Please scroll down to see all of this page

Work in progress 

At a Concert of Gurbani Kirtan on 2 November

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Futher content coming! Watch this space! Thank you for your patience.


And after this very soulful and truly amazing concert there was a birthday party for Sanju jee. What a privilege for Neil and I to be part of this birthday celebration...we were so glad to be there.

Riaz with Sarah from Canada 

We were delighted to meet our friend Sarah again, who was on a visit to the UK during the Fall.

Caroline and Sarah on 29 October:-


Photo by NK

 At the Pitt Rivers Museum on 7 September

It's amazing that we were up close to an impressive array of so many interesting and wonderful exhibits - what a brilliant backdrop for our 'Hands On Tabla' workshop at the PRM on 7 September. 

See below photos of us taken on the day by Chris Paul.


From the Pitt Rivers Museum Events Page (

Hands on Tabla

Saturday 7 September, 14.00 - 15.30 

Caroline and Neil from Oxford Tabla will be joining us on the Clore Learning Balcony to share their tabla skills. Work together as a family to drum tabla rhythms on these beautiful Indian drums. This activitiy is suitable for anyone over 6 years old and adults can come and play too.

We will be running three 20 minute drop-in sessions at 14.00, 14.30 and 15.00.

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 At the Pitt Rivers Museum on 27 July

We were delighted to be invited back to run another 'Hands On Tabla' workshop by Beth McDougall of the PRM. 


Unlike last time, this wasn't an events day with multiple activities going on. Nonetheless the museum was very busy and we had quite a crowd to enjoy and discover the sounds of tabla.


Photo credit: Beth McDougall of PRM

From the Pitt Rivers Museum Events Page (

Hands on Tabla

Saturday 27 July, 14.00 - 15.30 

Caroline and Neil from Oxford Tabla will be joining us on the Clore Learning Balcony to share their tabla skills. Work together as a family to drum tabla rhythms on these beautiful Indian drums. This activitiy is suitable for anyone over 6 years old and adults can come and play too.

We will be running three 20 minute drop-in sessions at 14.00, 14.30 and 15.00.

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 Our summer sojourn in Montreal 

We made it back once again to Montreal, where tabla is kool and also there is a jazz festival and also so much scope for visiting organic retailers and restaurants, and where we met our friends Shawn and Caroline, and of course dropped in to Shawn’s summer workshop to join in with the extensive tabla practice. Montreal is always a delight... and this time we were there from 29 June to 6 July.

Please see below various photos taken by NK.


Shawn teaching Indian rhythms to his students:-

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Group tabla practice:- 

Jonathan Voyer's Hindustani singing demonstration:- 

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Our walk in La Forêt Urbaine:- 

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Above: a change for Caroline from playing tabla!

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Our drop in to the Jazz Festival and a very apt painting:- 


Rahat Fateh Ali Khan performed

 in Oxford on 27 June

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This was a very special and amazing concert and all tickets were sold out... On the poster (left) is the following caption:-

"In celebration of his honorary degree from Oxford University, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan will perform Qawwalis that span his career and explore his family legacy. 


All profits generated will be used to enhance the Faculty of Music's Sounds of South Asia series."

Thanks so much to Sounds of South Asia series for organising this. 

After the concert a spokesperson for the Sounds of South Asia series commented:- "Thank you, Dr. Rahat, for giving Oxford such a fantastic performance this evening at the Oxford Town Hall, and for your continued support with the Sounds of South Asia series."


Please see below a transcript of an interview with Doctor Des Oliver, artistic curator, about staging concerts in this series, and a youtube link to this interview.  


 Let’s Oxplore made a video about staging the Sounds of South Asia concert series in Oxford, which was uploaded to youtube on 4 April, featuring Doctor Des Oliver its artistic curator.

Below is a youtube link to this, followed by a transcript of what he said during it which makes revealing and interesting reading:-

 Before the transcript here's Let’s Oxplore's youtube introducton:-

“The Sounds of South Asia concert series brings musicians and dancers from South Asia to perform in venues across Oxford. Dr Des Oliver, a classical composer and founder of the programme, talks about organising the concerts.”


Here's the transcript from Let’s Oxplore's youtube:-

“Ok, so my name is Des Oliver, I’m a classical composer and artistic curator of a series called “The Sounds of South Asia Series”, which is run by the Music Faculty at the University of Oxford. And the series aims to promote the music of South Asia through concerts and workshops and talks, and so far we’ve had concerts featuring Indian Classical vocalists, North Indian Hindustani vocalists, we’ve had like South Indian Carnatic violinists, we’ve also had music from the Indian diaspora, so that sort of folk music and that sort of popular music forms, and also as well probably what’s commonly understood as kind of crossover type music, where there are a sort of a mix of different influences from Western popular and folk music with Indian classical or folk music. It’s basically been going for sort of a year and a half now, and most of the things that we do, in fact all of them are open to the general public. We’ve got actually a concert coming up in two weeks which is focusing on the music of Afghanistan. John Baily and Veronica Doubleday, they’re practitioners of Afghan music and they’ll be doing a concert that focuses on the music of Kabul, and that will be accompanied by a dancer who trains in Indian classical dance. And also will be accompanied by Ensemble Zohra, or at least some of Ensemble Zohra, who are the first all-female orchestra from Afghanistan, who are actually will be here in Oxford as part of International Women’s Day, and this will all take place in the Holywell Music Rooms, which I think it will be the first time that they’ve had a dancer in that space. So I was previously a doctoral student at Worcester College, Oxford, and my PhD was as a composer and composers for our PhD in addition to writing a fairly extensive thesis, we also have to produce a huge composition of music, and for my thesis I was exploring how certain classical composers have used music from outside the classical tradition and so, sort of dealing with questions of cultural appropriation and so that sort of involved me having to reach out to musicians of Indian classical music both here in the UK but also in India as well. So that meant having lots of different sort of Skype conversations and one of the conversations I had was with a Hindustani performer called Shruti Jauhari, who’s also a musicologist as well, and I think that she was so sort of enamoured and intrigued by some of my questions that we decided that probably the best way to address these questions was through music. You know, very often, musicians the best way for us to address certain issues isn’t actually through verbal discourse at all but it’s through music-making. And so we invited her to come to Oxford, and I wanted to write a piece that included Western classical musicians and their traditions and to sort of try to bring the two traditions together in a concert that actually featured lots of different kinds of music, which is very unusual. So we had classical works that were influenced by the subject of India, but we also had some traditional authentic Hindustani repertoire, and my piece was kind of in the middle of that, which was acting as a bridge between the two. Yeah I mean I think the impact has been that it has very much helped to bring different communities together. So you know the challenge, I think initially was sort of reimagining those spaces that were historically for classical audiences and to make them welcoming for new audiences that perhaps hadn’t been to those venues before. And so I think the impact has been providing these spaces, and demonstrating that these spaces are available to different communities who perhaps would walk past these venues and not think about going in. But I think also the the impact as well, because we’ve been very surprised at the number of regular sort of concert-going audiences, audiences who would normally go to see a Haydn string quartet or something, those audiences have also been quite curious to see those spaces completely reimagined, and that has sort of been a challenge as well which is putting those audiences at ease. They’re in this very familiar space but the concerts are slightly different, they’re a bit more bit relaxed and slightly less formal, and so we’ve sort of had the challenge of how to give permission to those audiences to feel relaxed, that they can kind of walk around, they just don’t have to sit there, you know throughout the whole concert. And so I think the impact really has been bringing a lot of the different communities together and allowing them to sort of interact through the universal experience of music.“

We played at a Holi, Basant

and Nowroz Event on 23 March

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At this festival in the springtime Neil sang 'Phool Khile Bagiyan Mein' and 'Nazare Karam Mope Kijiye Nizamuddin' - both in Raag Basant Bahaar - and Caroline accompanied on tabla.  

Photos by NK


Caroline in readiness to play tabla on 23 March 

Confluence Collective performing during this event:-


At the Holywell Music Room

on 13 March 

Sounds of South Asia Series - Ensemble Z

On 13 March Neil and I had a thoroughly enjoyable evening at a lecture/recital featuring:

Veronica Doubleday (vocals and daireh),

John Baily (rubab),

 Meneka Bora, who danced superbly,


Ensemble Azada (part of Ensemble Zohra) from Afghanistan. 


The Holywell was full to capacity with an enthusiastic audience, who were very happy with proceedings and we thought that Veronica Doubleday sang amazingly.

It was a great achievement to get Ensemble Zohra, the first all female orchestra of Afghanistan, over to the UK in March, including their week long residency in Oxford but I was a bit surprised that their young tabla player was male instead of female... having said this I did enjoy Elyas' tabla playing very much. I  wonder who the harmonium player was. 


Please see below photos taken by NK, an introduction by the SOUNDS OF SOUTH ASIA series, the recital/lecture programme and further information:- 

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Introduction by the SOUNDS OF SOUTH ASIA series to the lecture/recital at the Holywell Room on 13 March:-


"Music and dance at the court in Kabul – reimagining classical forms


From the late 19th century to the early 20th century the rulers in Kabul (known as Amirs) were great music lovers and patrons of music. The lecture-recital explores the changing role of the Lareh repertoire under the changing Amirs of the period. The concert forms part of a week-long residency for Ensemble Zohra, the first-ever all female orchestra of Afghanistan."






John Baily, Kabuli rubab, a plucked lute

Veronica Doubleday, vocal and daireh, Afghan frame drum

Dr Menaka PP Bora, dancer

Elyas, tabla drum pair

1. Rag Desrubab, tabla and daireh

2. Sefid kheimeh siah kheimeh khoraman [White tents, black tents, so many tents]: vocal and daireh

3. John and Menaka discuss court dance in 19th Century Kabul

4. A reimagined version of the court dance to a lareh (multi-part instrumental piece) in Rag Pilu: rubab, tabla and daireh


Ensemble Azada

Razia Asghari  Sitar

Ombulbanin Atayie  Sitar

Anita Alami  Dutar

Shokriya Hamidi  Qashkarcha

Rabia Ahmadi  Rubab

Samira Mohammadi  Rubab

Mohammad Elyas Nabi Zada  Tabla

Pupils from The Afghanistan National Institute of Music's Ensemble Azada perform instrumental music on the following instruments: dutar

(long-necked lute), tanbur (long-necked lute), rubab (short-necked lute), sitar (Indian lute), dilruba (bowed lute), qashkarcha (small plucked lute), and tabla (drum pair).


Qadara Sar

Shad kon jan-e man

Paymana Bade

Dil-e Dar Khon

Sakina Mast

Rasha Pa Meena Meena (Pashto)

Wo Ba ein Chasman-e- ke Dari

Sharin Goftar  Dari mix of three songs

Bia ke birim ba Mazae

Further information by the SOUNDS OF SOUTH ASIA series about Ensemble Zohra events:-

"On Thursday 14 March the Faculty, in partnership with the Orchestra of St John’s, are inviting schools across Oxfordshire to enjoy the extraordinary music and story of Ensemble Zohra, the first Afghan Women’s Orchestra, as they join us for two Schools Concerts at the Wesley Memorial Church.

The concerts will run at 1pm and 2.30pm and will include an introduction to the traditional instruments of Afghanistan guided by renowned ethnomusicologists Professor John Baily and Veronica Doubleday.

Audiences will also be able to enjoy the rich musical history of Afghanistan in a lecture-recital given by John Baily, Veronica Doubleday and Ensemble Zohra at the Holywell Music Room on Wednesday 13 March. 

These concerts forms part of our Sounds of South Asia series and a week-long residency for Ensemble Zohra. Led by postdoctoral researcher, Dr Cayenna Ponchione-Bailey, the residency combines side-by-side performances with the Orchestra of St John’s, Oxford University and Oxfordshire County Youth Orchestra musicians, with panel discussions on women’s musical education in Afghanistan, schools’ concerts and other special events."

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At the Holywell Music Room

on 5 March 

SAMA Arts Network organised a Qawwali concert by Najmuddin Saifuddin and Group, on the 5th of March at the Holywell Music Room, which we attended.


What Oxford missed in Oxford; a unique and amazing Qawwali concert.


We were a bit late for the concert at the Holywell. There was no welcoming light outside to cheer us when we arrived in the pouring rain and we saw no one ahead of us or even behind us as we approached the front door. This door looked forbiddingly closed and all we could hear was the sound of rain. To our relief, when pushed the door gave way and in we went.


The only person we saw inside was a man behind a desk. “Is there a Qawwali concert tonight”? we asked him. “Yes, it’s just started” he replied. Then he surprisingly waved us on, without even asking to see our tickets. As we opened the door to the magnificent Holywell Music Room, we thought it would be so full that we wouldn’t find anywhere to sit… but as we entered we were shocked to find it almost empty - only just about twenty people there. We thought we had been lucky to even get tickets, for usually Qawwali concerts in Oxford are sold out weeks in advance.  


We sat with a clear and intimate view of the musicians and this gave us the opportunity to engage with them. This engagement became especially more so when they began to perform a composition which we knew intimately (Allah Ho) and they could see that we knew it by our reactions. This was very exciting and even more so when they performed something which we were going to present ourselves in a Spring festival on 23rd March – a piece we had never heard performed live  - this was ‘Phoole Khile Bagiyan Mein’ in celebration of Spring. It is very normal in Indian concerts to have a communication between musicians and audience but this can only happen if they can see each other.


An amazing part of this concert happened when the rhythmic section of the group, Salamat Ali and Naseem Ahmed, launched forth into a long drum break, and the increasing complexity of their rhythms was really astonishing. During it all the singers were silent and the wonderful variety of drumming had their say. We felt really sorry for the two guys in the audience who left just before this and really very happy for the two guys who suddenly came in and heard it!


The Sufi music was splendidly enticing and rewarding in its many aspects and the small enthusiastic audience had a great time experiencing and enjoying it but the wider audience of Oxford were the ones that seriously missed out. Najmuddun Saifuddin and Brothers definitely deserved a very full house that evening and we were very sad they didn’t get this.


We look forward to seeing them in the UK again.

Caroline Tapp © 2019


Please see below qawwal member details from the YouTube


featuring Najmuddin Saifuddin & Brothers published by afghanblooms.

Najmuddin Saifuddin & Brothers:-

Muhammad Najmuddin: Lead Vocalist

Saifuddin Mehmood: Lead Vocalist/Harmonium

Zafeeruddin Ahmeed: Harmonium

Mughisuddin: Support Singer/Chorus

Ehtishamuddin Hussain: Support Singer/Chorus

Salamat Ali: Tabla

Naseem Ahmed: Dholak


Photographs by CT and NK

From the Faculty of Music events page:-


March 5, 2019 @ 7:30 pm - 10:00 pm 

Songs of the Mystics/Sufi Qawwali - Najmuddin Saifuddin & Group

The family of Qawwal Najmuddin Saifuddin group trace their ancestry back to the 13th-century and are considered today the leading singers of the Sufi Qawwali tradition. Their songs are of thousands of years of mystic poetry, which have been passed on from generation to generation. The songs, which constitute the qawwali repertoire, are in a number of languages. Those from the classical period are in dialects of north India like Brajbhasha and Awadhi. These dialects continue to have huge influence on qawwali in other languages. There is a rich tradition in other languages like Urdu, Punjabi, Persian and Saraiki.


at PRM on 26 January

On 26 January Oxford Tabla were thrilled to be back again at the Pitt Rivers Museum to demonstrate tabla (as a solo and accompaniment instrument) and to run our 'Hands On Tabla' workshop - this time in three 20 minute sessions - and to join with 'Rhythms of the World'.

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There's only one way - it has to be tabla! 

Please see below photos taken on the day by Beth McDougall (of PRM)

and NK. Also below is a fun promotional announcement by the PRM. 


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"Join local musicians Natty, Caroline, Neil and Francis to travel the world through sound and rhythms! Take part in hands on tabla drumming from India and djembe drumming with African Rhythms. Listen to Natty tell the story of Ethiopian sounds and the music making of the Jali community in Mali. Make your own recycled musical instrument to take home and keep the rhythms going all the way home!

The tabla sessions (20 mins) with Caroline and Neil from Oxford Tabla and the djembe poetry workshops (30 mins) with Francis from Drumming Up, Peace on Earth are ideal for families with children aged 6+. Limited spaces, so do turn up early to guarantee a place.

The recycled musical instrument making is a drop-in session suitable for all ages.

Natty Mark, from the African School, will be in the Old Library talking with images and sounds about Ethiopian sounds and Jali community music making in Mali. There will be an opportunity to handle different musical instruments at the end of the session. This session is ideal for children aged 11+ and adults and will last approximately 40 minutes. It's easy."