Ottawa International Rhythm Festival features drum players from around the world. Photo: Parth Patel.
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U of O students participate in festival celebrating diversity, culture, and artistic talent

Gharana Arts, a performance school specializing in Indian arts, joined forces with the Ottawa International Drum Festival to present the reimagined Ottawa International Rhythm Festival, a lively event featuring special performances from around the globe.

The event took place on Saturday, Sept. 3, at Kailash Mital Theatre at Carleton University.

The atmosphere was incredibly inclusive and festive, with three big blue tents lining the outside of the theatre building, and splashes of flags from different countries between them—the perfect setup for a festival that featured acts from India, Africa, Brazil, Japan, and Indonesia.

Before the main event, interactive booths and workshops were sprinkled over the lawn, with organizations like Samba Ottawa donning bright yellow shirts and giving out shakers and drums to show people how to play different melodies and beats.

Although this was a very Carleton-centric event, a number of University of Ottawa students helped put it all together, including Mohan Aubeeluck, who is going into his second year of accounting at the Telfer School of Management.

Aubeeluck has been a student at Gharana Arts for four years and has been playing the tabla, a north Indian drum, for nine years.

“Every part of the Hindustani classical music is amazing,” he shared. “There is no specific part I enjoy, but if I had to choose one part it would be the intricate rhythm patterns and history of the music tradition. It is so rich and I keep learning throughout my lifetime.”

The sound of drums greeted the audience as the main event began, and the emcees were bilingual, making it more accessible to a larger audience. Audience members themselves arrived wearing traditional clothing, giving the event an even larger sense of multiculturalism.

The headliner, Kumar Bose, a talented Indian tabla player flew in from India to attend the event, marking this festival as a once in a lifetime opportunity.   

“Pandit Kumar Bose’s solo was by far the best part for me,” Aubeeluck said. “As a tabla and music student, it was an honour to (hear) him play live. (He) also took the time to explain the complexity of his music and showed me the depth of knowledge required to play this instrument.”“The tabla is not just a series of drum sounds. There is a language, math, and emotion in playing this instrument.”

All in all, the Ottawa International Rhythm Festival was a fun, jovial celebration of arts, culture, and talent from various corners of the world, and ended on a happy beat.


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