During the first week, I rehearsed Payton MacDonald's 4th Concerto for Tabla and Percussion Quartet with the UFMG Percussion Ensemble, directed by Fernando Rocha. The students were extremely well prepared, and the rehearsals went really smoothly. I also got to spend some time visiting the UFMG campus which is really beautiful. The campus is very green, with numerous palm trees, banana trees, bamboo groves and even jack fruit trees!
The festival also got a lot of attention in the press. Here are just a few of the articles that appeared:
My concert took place on Thursday, August 28 at the UFMG Conservatory. The Conservatory is an older building, with colonial design features. The hall was packed and it was HOT! There was a very special vibe that night and I really had a great time playing this particular concert. Every concert has a different feeling to it, and this was one of those truly exceptional nights. I started with a traditional solo in Teentaal, accompanied by Elise Pittenger on cello lehra. The solo was about 30 minutes long. The program continued with the South American premieres of Bruno Paquet's Les arbres célestes, and Tawnie Olson's Something to Say, both for tabla and fixed media. For the last piece, I was joined by Fernando Rocha and the UFMG Percussion Ensemble (Rafael Matos, Daniela Oliveira, Mateos Oliveira, and Charles Augusto) for Payton MacDonald's 4th Concerto for Tabla and Percussion Quartet. I was amazed by the warm and enthusiastic reception that I received for all the repertoire, whether traditional or contemporary. And, I couldn't have hoped to play with better musicians. Such an amazing audience in BH! And to top it all off, I split the concert with renowned world percussion group Hands On'semble, who performed a dynamic, varied program of world percussion in the second half of the concert. It was an honour to share the evening with them.
The next morning, I gave a workshop, introducing the tabla and North Indian rhythmic concepts. I mainly spoke about taal and tihai, but we also had time to talk about cultural issues, kaida development, and Guru-shishya-parampara. The participants had some really good questions and so we had a nice dialogue. Fernando translated to Portuguese throughout.
The room was somewhat small, and was absolutely packed to capacity! Some people sat on the floor, which was nice and some people unfortunately had to look in from the hallway. What was really funny, though, is that a number of people watched from outside through the open windows! And they weren't just passerbys; they stayed for the whole workshop and participated in the clapping of the taals and bol recitation.
The festival was put together by Fernando Rocha, an excellent percussionist, who is Professor of Percussion at the Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais. I must say that he did an absolutely top notch job in organizing every aspect of the festival, from transportation to accommodations, and rehearsals to performances. Also, special thanks to his assistants Nathália Fragoso and Renan Fontes who were always available to help us out with information, translation, or anything else we needed. There was such a great variety of participants, and such a high level of musicianship. I found this festival to be a truly enriching and inspiring experience.
I think that this will just be the first blog post of many regarding this festival. More to come soon...