533 Souls Festival celebrates mental well-being in the post-pandemic world through serene, contemplative renditions of ragas and yoga. Filmed and recorded live at England’s premier venue - The Curve Theatre, Leicester - this performance is part of the 533 Souls Festival. Curated exclusively with UK-based musicians.
A tabla player of sparkling qualities, Gurdain Rayatt’s performances are filled with exuberance, virtuosity and rich content that he has gleaned from his gurus through years of rigorous training and sadhana (immersive practice).
Rayatt learned tabla from his grandfather, Bhai Gurmit Singh Ji Virdee who wasn’t just a great tabla player but also a prolific teacher who had nurtured hundreds of students and sown the seeds of Indian classical music in England – far, far away from its place of origin.
During his teenage years, Rayatt had also received training under Pandit Shankar Ghosh in India.
Filmed and recorded live at England’s premier venue - The Curve Theatre, Leicester - this video is part of the 533 Souls Festival. Curated exclusively with UK-based musicians, 533 Souls celebrates mental well-being in the post-pandemic world through Indian classical music and yoga.
Rayatt performs a solo in Teental. With crystal clear diction and understated drama, he recites each tabla composition before executing them. Maintaining a strong downbeat, he creates a palette of varied sounds with leisurely and swift modulations. His movements emerge in indulgent and subtle bols (syllables) that contract, stretch, trundle, lilt and gallop in soft and impassioned deliveries.
The 533 empty seats do not deter his spirit to show up – a vital requisite that comprises human resilience and has assured the continuity of civilisations through the toughest of times. In a post-pandemic world, which has affected most of us and brought our hopes and aspirations to a grinding halt, Rayatt’s resolve to continue his ‘sewa’ (service) through music continues with renewed determination.
With no one around to watch him, judge him or revel in his performance, this moment is stripped of the inessential – an occasion where his music finds new depths with complete immersion in his art because nothing else matters.
Executed in collaboration with the De Montfort University and The Curve Theatre, the 533 series conveys hope and solidarity in these times to the students’ communities that have been negatively impacted in the UK. One of the worst COVID-affected areas, Leicestershire was moved to tier three by the UK government - a category that completely banned household mixing and led to the shutting down of pubs, restaurants and universities thus dashing the dreams and aspirations of young souls who had travelled to Leicester to begin higher education in 2020.
Recorded at Darbar Festival in 2021, at The Curve Theatre, Leicester:
-Gurdain Rayatt (tabla)