Grammy winner Sandeep Das transcends musical borders to perform at UBC this Saturday

Grammy-winning tabla player Sandeep Das is coming to Chan Centre on Saturday, February 18 to perform with his frequent collaborators, the HUM ensemble, as well as students from the UBC School of Music.

His most recent project Delhi to Damascus is a mix of North Indian and Middle Eastern classical music. It is part of a bigger project called Transcending Borders: One Musical Note at a Time, which brings instruments like tabla (a pair of drums with different pitches), sitar, Indian santoor and Syrian Oud into conversation.

UBC student percussionists will join in on his majestic piece “Shrishti.” Tabla is a highly versatile instrument and can produce a larger variety of sounds than other percussion instruments. Das uses tabla as well as other percussion instruments to their individual strengths to create an epic experience which not only transcends borders but also aims to commune with the metaphysical universe.

Classical or gharana musicians often value keeping the tradition pure over gaining a larger audience. Das does not share those concerns. After playing professionally for more than 30 years, he believes that his style of playing sets him apart and gives him an extra edge over other tabla artists. He said that his success is a result of stylistic innovation, not dilution.

Das said that the inspiration for the show came during the 2016 ISIS crisis when many Western borders began excluding, harassing and detaining people from Middle Eastern countries.

“This is when I felt, what can I do to spread the message of love and understanding that we are all the same though we come from different countries?” Das said in an interview with The Ubyssey.

Promoting cultural unity has been an important part of Das’ career in both theme and in practice. He has played with the famous cellist Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Route ensemble since 2000. Das also received the Guggenheim Fellowship at Dartmouth College in 2019 for an extension of his project called Subah-e-Kashi Shaam-e-Shiraz (Morning in Kashi, Night in Shiraz), which aims to bridge cities from India to Iran and recognize the intersections in Persian and Indian history.

“What we consider local is actually global when you go back to the history,” said Das. “Nothing grew in isolation, right?”

JUNO Award winning composer and pianist Dinuk Wijeratne will also be performing his piece "Out of the Karmic Blue" with Das and the ensemble.

“Come to the concert. You will experience something that you have never seen or heard or experienced before. That I can guarantee,” said Das as a message to students.

Tickets are available here, at a cost of $22.50 for students and Indigenous people and $45 for non-students.