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Chittenango Music Boosters sponsor master musician visit

Master percussionist and Tabla expert Sandip Burman wowed fellow musicians at Chittenango High School during a recent visit. Burman is best known for playing the Tabla, a drum used largely in Northern Indian classical music.

Burman contributed to the movie soundtracks for Tim Burton's "Mars Attacks!" He has toured with and contributed to the music of Bela Fleck and the Flecktones and completed a tour with several noted artists called East Meets Jazz. Not merely a performer, Burman also is a teacher. He has offered classes and clinics at numerous high schools, colleges and universities.

Burman lives in India and comes to the USA to teach and perform. His manager, John Gardner, noticed CHS was en route to one of two colleges where Burman would be teaching clinics. Gardner called instrumental music teacher Aaron Velardi to see if there was any interest. He spoke of Burman's accomplishments and the people he'd played with, many of whom were jazz legends. This piqued Velardi's interest, so he hopped on the Internet.

He liked what he saw.

"Basically, this opportunity fell into my lap, and I felt I couldn't pass it up," Velardi said.

Velardi then discussed it with the Music Booster Association. They decided to sponsor the event. Velardi selected roughly 30 students from his jazz and Dixieland bands to attend. A few teachers and members of the MBA also came. Velardi had the event catered by Panera Bread Company.

Upon Burman's request, an Oriental rug and a white sheet were laid upon the floor.

Gardner addressed the students and explained who Burman was. Burman talked to the class and answered their questions, then demonstrated technique on the Tabla and the sitar.

"It was absolutely phenomenal," Velardi said.

Burman also discussed traditional Indian music, form and tonality. It took Burman 10 years to develop a technique to obtain different pitches in addition to rhythm in the bayan (bass drum). His fingers flew at superhuman speed as he performed.

"I've never heard my students so silent it was very moving, spiritual," Velardi said. "It was very unique. More or less I knew it was going to be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. We are fortunate to have such a strong booster group."

To listen to a sample of Tabla music, visit world-of-tabla.com/tabla_information.php. Burman can be found at myspace.com/sandipburman. His official site is sandipburman.com.

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