Artist Profiles: Ritesh Das

Ritesh Das
Born in Calcutta, India, Ritesh comes from a family of dancers. His parents directed one of India’s leading dance and music facilities and in this environment Ritesh had the opportunity to observe many dance and music gurus. Ritesh began his traditional tabla training with Shankar Ghosh, one of the veterans of tabla.

Ritesh arrived to the U.S. in the late 1970s and continued his studies with Zakir Hussain. In the early eighties he became a student of Swapan Chaudhuri, a legendary figure in tabla, at the Ali Akbar College of Music in San Rafael, California.

He has been accompanying dance, music and vocal performances from an early age. In the Indian tradition he has worked with Aashish Khan, Krishna Bhat, Aruna Narayan-Kalle, Sabri Khan, Gauri Guha, G.S. Sachdev, Pandit Vyas, Chitresh Das and Joannas Das.

Ritesh’s foremost interest, indeed passion, is the fusion of the North Indian classical rhythms with culturally diverse musical expressions. From 1979-1985, he was the principal percussionist for the Aman Folk Ensemble, an international folk dance company based in Los Angeles, California. Since his arrival in Canada his many credits include performances and recordings with Loreena McKennitt, Jane Siberry, The Tea Party, George Koller, Sonny Greenwich, Don Thompson and Donald Quan.

In 1991 Ritesh founded the Toronto Tabla Ensemble, the first musical group of its kind in Canada. He is also the founding member and artistic co-director of M-DO, a Canadian center in Toronto for cross-cultural music and dance activities. As a composer, he oversees all the Ensemble’s music and has also composed full scores for Firedance, a collective with Joanna Das and Esmeralda Enrique.

Ritesh began teaching tabla when he moved to Canada in 1987. He teaches privately from a studio in downtown Toronto and in the Toronto Metropolitan school system as a recipient of the Ontario Arts Council “Artists in Education” grants, and in programs offered by the Royal Conservatory of Music and the National Ballet School.

Discography:

Toronto Tabla Ensemble (1996)
Second Palla (1998)
Firedance (2000)
Weaving (2002)
Alankar (2008)

Author: Angel Romero

Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music music for many years. He founded the websites worldmusiccentral.org and musicasdelmundo.com. Angel produced several TV specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for TelevisiĆ³n EspaƱola (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World.

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