By Jessica Cosentino
Imagine: you hold a master’s degree in economics and you must choose between a career as an economist or a tabla player. Which would you choose? For Swapan Chaudhuri the choice was simple. Now he’s considered one of the best tabla players in the world.
Swapan was in Toronto last weekend at the Betty Oliphant Theatre. The audience was still and focused on the fast movement of Swapan’s hands as he briskly hit the drums.
The tabla is a pair of small hand drums, first played in northern India approximately 300 years ago. Swapan believes it dates as far back as the 13th century. The higher-pitched right drum is usually made of wood and the larger left drum is a deep kettle drum, usually made of copper.
Born in Calcutta, India, Chaudhuri bean playing the tabla at five. He comes from a family of doctors but says his father was supportive of his choice to play the tabla.
Chaudhuri says he wants to educate the world about the tabla. He plays nearly every weekend in different countries and says his travels have taken him everywhere except China and Russia.
But Chaudhuri is not only a performer, he is a teacher. Chaudhuri is tabla master at the Ali Akbar College of Music in California and also teaches at the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia. He can also be found at the Basel Conservatory in Switzerland, and in his hometown, Calcutta.