Shawn Mativetsky

Dynamic performer Shawn Mativetsky is considered one of Canada’s leading ambassadors of the tabla, and is a pioneer in bridging the worlds of Western and Indian classical music. Called an “exceptional soloist” by critic Réjean Beaucage, WholeNote’s Andrew Timar adds that “as a leading disciple of the renowned Sharda Sahai, he has serious street cred.” Shawn Mativetsky is highly sought-after as both performer and educator, and is active in the promotion of the tabla and North Indian classical music through lectures, workshops, and performances across Canada and internationally. Based in Montreal, Shawn teaches tabla and percussion at McGill University. His solo album, Payton MacDonald: Works for Tabla, was released in 2007, and Cycles, his recording of Canadian compositions for tabla, was released in the fall of 2011. He recently released Rivers, a solo tabla album rooted in the rich traditions of the Benares style of tabla playing.

As a practitioner of Indian classical music, Shawn regularly gives solo tabla performances, as well as accompanying kathak dance, voice, bansuri, sarod, santoor, sarangi, and sitar artists. Since 2003, Shawn has been affiliated with the Pandit Ram Sahai Foundation (UK/India), and in the summers of 2006 and 2008, hosted tabla maestro Pandit Sharda Sahai’s annual summer tabla workshop. Since 2011, Shawn has been hosting his own annual summer tabla workshop at McGill University. In recent years, he has been working closely with santoor player Jonathan Voyer, sitarist Uwe Neumann, and kathak dancer Sudeshna Maulik.

Shawn has performed numerous solo recitals, spanning Canada, the United States, the UK, India, and Brazil and has been featured in the Shastra Festival, Sound Symposium, Windsor Canadian Music Festival, Pontio / Music @ Bangor, Vale of Glamorgan Festival, New Music in New Spaces, Groundswell, Western Front, Open Space, VICO’s Global Soundscapes Festival, Festival Montréal Baroque, Jusqu’aux Oreilles, Evolutions, Voyages: Montréal-New York, Festival International du Domaine Forget, New Works Calgary, Music Toronto, and the Percussive Arts Society International Convention. As an ensemble musician, Shawn Mativetsky performs with pianist Xenia Pestova, violinist Parmela Attariwala’s cross-cultural Attar Project, Indo-fusion group Ragleela, Indian-folk group Galitcha, the improv trio Of Sound, Mind and Body, with Tim Brady and Helmut Lipsky, and percussion group Ensemble Duniya. A versatile studio musician, Shawn has appeared on albums by Yann Perreau, Elephant Stone, Suzie Leblanc, Ramachandra Borcar, and Daniel Lavoie. Regular performances with Galitcha have led to concerts across Canada and the US, as well as tours to France and Tunisia, the chance to play with guest musicians such as Pt. Vishwa Mohan Bhatt, Salil Bhatt, Harry Manx, and Yves Lambert, as well as a performance for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, during their visit to Canada.

October 22 | 2017 New Music Festival Marathon

Tabla Solo in Teentaal

Traditional, arr. Shawn Mativetsky

In the Benares baaj (style), the art of solo tabla performance is greatly respected and very highly developed. There are more than twenty forms of composition in use, many of them unique to this tradition. Some are theme and variation forms which require spontaneous improvisation by the performer, while many others involve sophisticated compositional techniques with fixed pieces handed down from generation to generation. In addition, there is a well defined procedure for joining the various types of compositions to form a logical and pleasing performance. The solo also includes vocal recitation of tabla compositions, using the traditional ‘solfege’ syllables called bol.

A tabla solo is traditionally played in a sixteen beat taal, a rhythmic cycle, known as Teentaal. Throughout the performance, an aural outline of this taal is maintained by means of a cyclic melody known as a lehra.