Toronto Tabla Ensemble release Dream Symposium (single)

The first single “Dream Symposium” from the famed Toronto Tabla Ensemble’s as yet untitled forthcoming seventh album is a memorable first taste of what’s to come. Composed by the group’s founder Ritesh Das for the Youth Ensemble, featured in an accompanying video, it is a evocative work of percussive musical art that wins you over in increments. The Toronto Tabla Ensemble has made waves in the global musical scene for many years guided by Das’ creative vision and occupies a prominent role as cultural ambassadors for Canada and world music.

Das first founded the musical collective/organization in 1991 and their touring includes multiple treks through Canada as well as forays to both India and Australia. Das established the Youth Ensemble in 2017 with the express goal of training and educating talented youth between the ages of 8 and 16; apprentices and members alike are selected from the Toronto Tabla Ensemble school, take part in weekly training/rehearsal sessions, and are preparing to release their first studio recording in 2020.


The instrumental runs a few seconds short of four minutes long. The composition, written by Das, encompasses a small cosmos of color, however, in that small frame. It builds from spartan beginnings and gathers momentum quick without ever rushing its development. The initial pulse of drums seems to be feeling its way, so to speak, into the song and other percussive tools soon join the track. Das understands well that the range of percussive is wider than casual listeners might presume – tablas, shakers, and brass percussion, among other instruments, make their presence felt in this performance.

The pace quickens as the composition finds an initial groove but never feels cluttered. The video features dancers often augmenting adult ensemble performances and they bring welcome visual complement to the video as well. “Dream Symposium” doesn’t demand a promotional clip to manifest its appeal for listeners, but the video has low-key visuals that are suggestive, never tacky or overwrought, and builds around a brief narrative rather than inundating viewers with a series of disconnected images. The professional polish and the ending’s warm humorous ending strike welcome notes as well.


Toronto Tabla Ensemble does not eschew modern percussion. There is a traditional drum kit played throughout the track – it often doubles what the tabla patterns but offers counter-rhythms as well. “Dream Symposium”, as well, has a restless creative thrust – the sinewy tempo resists settling into predictability and shifts gears often during the song’s duration. It is impossible to ignore, as well, Das’ innate understand of how compositional dynamics can enhance our listening experience.

There are dramatic peaks and valleys building throughout this performance and even those who reject instrumental music will likely have a favorable opinion of this performance. It is a compelling early aural glimpse of the next step in the Toronto Tabla Ensemble’s musical journey and anyone unacquainted with their music will find them to be a fresh and invigorating departure from your standard pop or rock fare. Once you hear this track, you will want to hear more.

Michael Rand

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