Bandleader and tabla player Roshni Samlal crafts an improvisatory musical narrative that is equal parts a songbook of Indo-Caribbean mythos and dream memory and futurist reframing of the art of the traditional tabla solo. Presenting songs from the deep, personal waters of her Trinidadian childhood enmeshed within percussion-forward electronic beats, Roshni seeks to trace musical threads from the South Asian continental traditions of ghazal, thumri and Bhojpuri folk to their morphed pop and folk iterations across oceans of forgetting and remembering. Joining her will be vocalist, Shweta Pandya, sarangi player, Rohan Misra and oud player, Kane Mathis.
The opening set of the night will feature excerpts from Naina: A Window into the World of Kathak and Thumri by dancer and choreographer Veronica Simas de Souza Rosas. This Kathak piece unveils the intricate art of allusion and gesture as depicted in South Asian miniature paintings, intricately interwoven with eloquent poetic meters, rhythmic cycles, and musical modes.
The two sets are each prismatic interpretations and responses to moments of musical innovation and diasporic departures of 15th-17th centuries around genres of thumri, folk music and miniature paintings.
About the Artists:
Roshni Samlal is a New York-based, Trinidadian tabla player who has studied within the Farrukhabad, Benares and Punjab gharanas or schools of Indian classical percussion. Born in Trinidad, she was introduced to the tabla by her vocalist father, Mukund Samlal who was an eminent singer and harmonium player in the renaissance of South Asian ancestral arts that swept through 1960’s Trinidad, pioneered by H.S. Adesh.
Roshni is now a prolific local teacher and performer, both in traditional, soloist repertoire, as a classical accompanist(Pt. Krishna Bhatt, Steve Gorn, Sobroto Roy Chowdhury) as well as within a variety of jazz, experimental and chamber ensembles(In D Ensemble, Arkinetics, Orakel.)
Roshni also explores creating sound design landscapes and Ableton beat production as a narratorial context for tabla solos, incorporating poetry and sound collages that speak to topics of indentureship, post-colonial Caribbean identity, migration.
She is the co-curator and producer of the Ragini Festival which focuses on spotlighting the work of artists engaged in traditional folk and innovative arts within the further reaches of the South Asian diaspora, focusing on Indo-Caribbean heritage. Roshni also crafts DJ sets influenced by her heritage and experiences as an immigrant during the 90’s.
Rohan Misra is a promising young musician, specializing in the unique Indian bowed instrument called the Sarangi (translation: An instrument with a hundred colors). As the son and disciple of great Sarangi virtuoso Pandit Ramesh Misra, Rohan has inherited many of his father-Guru’s specialties, including tonal quality and aesthetic approach.
Rohan Started learning the Sarangi from his father Pandit Ramesh Misra at the age of six. His exposure to music since early childhood attracted him to learn other Indian instruments as well. Rohan is also pursuing his education in western music, particularly focusing on the Piano and Clarinet. Coming out of the family of nine generations of Sarangi players, Rohan aspires to be successful as the 10th generation in his lineage. He also wishes to further his musicality by blending certain aspects of western music into his heritage of Indian classical music to emerge with a unique musical expression. Rohan has performed at Carnegie Hall, Columbia University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, The Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C., California and North Carolina. He has performed with luminaries such as Pt. Birju Maharaj, Smt. Kumudini Lakhia, Pt. Anindo Chatterjee, Samir Chatterjee, among others.
Performing on the 21-string Mandinka Harp and the Turkish Oud, Kane Mathis renders compelling interpretations of these traditional musics. Years of study with generous masters have given Kane a rare opportunity to share these traditions with other cultures. Kane began taking trips to The Gambia, West Africa in 1997 and has continued rigorous study of the Mandinka Kora. Over the past ten years his performances have earned him recognition by the Gambian president, The Gambian minister of culture, and both national television and radio of The Gambia. Kane’s primary kora teachers are Malamini Jobarteh of Brikama, The Gambia and Moriba Kouyate of The Gambia. The Jobarteh family remain one of The Gambia’s most important musical legacies. Tata Din din Jobarteh, Pa Bobo Jobarteh, and Siffai Jobarteh are the families current most visible exponents touring the world. Kane’s Oud study began with Mutlu Torun of the I.T.U. conservatory in 1998 in Istanbul and continued with 5 and a half years of courses with Oud virtuoso Münir Nurttin Beken.
Shweta Pandya is the founder of Sur Sangat LLC, an educational institution that focuses on the teaching and promoting of Indian classical arts and culture. As a teacher at Sur Sangat, she currently teaches both Hindustani vocal and instrumental music to students of all ages. She holds a Master's of Performing Arts in Vocal Music from Veer Narmad South Gujarat University and has been trained classically for over 20 years. Along with music, she is also a trained dancer, having taken rigorous training in both the Bharatanatyam and Kathak dance styles. In addition to being an educator, Shweta is also a stage performer with years of experience singing Bollywood, classical, folk, and semiclassical shows on stage.
Veronica Simas de Souza, a Brooklyn-based kathak dancer, choreographer, and educator, is a disciple of Sunayana Hazarilal, a prominent figure in Kathak dance. Starting her artistic journey with ballet and Peruvian folkloric dances, she later devoted a decade to middle eastern dance, specializing in Egyptian classical and folk styles. Her quest for dance origins led her to India, where she began Kathak training under Sunayana Hazarilal in 2006. Veronica's Kathak debut was in 2009 at Mumbai's National Center for the Performing Arts. Completing her Rang Pravesh in 2013, she has since promoted this dance style through South American tours and notable performances at various international venues. Her collaborations include eminent artists across diverse musical traditions. Having lived in India for over a decade, Veronica now teaches and performs in New York City, focusing on preserving Kathak, researching women's contributions to the Jankiprasad Gharana, and creating contemporary works. In 2023, she premiered new choreographies and continues to teach at prestigious institutions, while serving as a faculty member at Natawari New York and a teaching artist in residence with Brooklyn Raga Massive and Harlem Stage.