Acclaimed tabla player Zakir Hussain will lead a classical ensemble of the world’s most skilled percussionists for “Zakir Hussain and Masters of Percussion,” on Monday, March 31, at 8 p.m. The performance is presented by the Center for the Arts at Virginia Tech.

The event will be held in the Anne and Ellen Fife Theatre, located within the Moss Arts Center’s Street and Davis Performance Hall at 190 Alumni Mall. 

Hussain, a preeminent classical tabla virtuoso known for his known for his genre-defying collaborations, delivers performances that have established him as a national treasure in his native India and an influential musician around the world.

Hussain’s contribution to world music has included work with artists as diverse as George Harrison, YoYo Ma, Van Morrison, Airto Moreira, Mark Morris, and the Kodo drummers. In 2009, he performed with four sold-out concerts for Carnegie Hall’s “Artist Perspective” series.

Getting back to his roots in this program, Hussain leads the Masters of Percussion, an outgrowth of Hussain’s memorable tours with his father, the legendary Ustad Allarakha. The ensemble has presented successful tours in the West since 1996.

Musicians joining Hussain on the 2014 tour include:

  • Steve Smith, western drums. The first non-Indian drummer to be included in a Masters of Percussion tour, Smith toured with the jazz violinist Jean-Luc Ponty and the rocker Ronnie Montrose before joining the American band Journey for the peak years of its success. In recent years he has worked with musicians such as Mariah Carey, Andrea Bocelli, Bryan Adams, and Ahmad Jamal. He also tours with his jazz and world music group Steve Smith & Vital Information.
  • Selvaganesh Vinayakram, kanjira and ghatam. A veteran of Remember Shakti with John McLaughlin, Vinayakram’s solo album “Soukha” (2006) featured all of the members of the group. He is also a major force in Tamil filmmaking circles, composing songs in a mixture of genres.
  • Niladri Kumar, sitar. Playing at the highest level in both classical and fusion realms, Kumar began playing the sitar at age four. He recorded with John McLaughlin on the album “Floating Point,” and went on to create the “zitar,” an electrified fusion of sitar and guitar. This is his second Masters of Percussion tour.
  • Dilshad Khan, sarangi. Coming from a family of great sarangi players, Khan began playing the instrument at the age of six. He is part of the ninth generation of performers in the Sikar Gharana of Rajasthan, India. Khan is also a famous name in the Bollywood film industry, where he has played for more than 500 movies.
  • Deepak Bhatt, dhol. A student of Taufiq Quereshi, Bhatt plays in a number of different ensembles, performing music from classical to fusion to Bollywood. He was part of Hussain’s 2009 Grammy-winning CD, “Global Drum Project.”
  • Vijay Chavan, dholki. From a family with a strong tradition of Indian folk drumming and singing, Chavan is one of the leading exponents of the dholki, the premiere folk instrument of Maharashtra. He is a well known performer in the Hindi film industry.

This tour of Zakir Hussain and Masters of Percussion is made possible by a grant from Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation with support from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Prior to the performance, the student-led Dhamaal Dance Team at Virginia Tech will be performing in the Moss Arts Center lobby. A competitive dance team created in 2004, the group performs Garba, a form of folk dance that originated in Gujarat, India.

On Sunday, March 30, a community drum circle will be held at 3 p.m. on the Moss Center’s lawn facing Main St. Glen Chilcote, music teacher at Kipps Elementary School in Blacksburg, will lead the event and be joined by students from the Virginia Tech’s Indian and Bengali Students’ Associations, as well as percussion majors from Virginia Tech’s Department of Music. The event is free and open to the public.


Tickets are $20-$30 for general public and $10 for students and youth 18 years old and under. Tickets can be purchased online; at the Moss Arts Center's box office, noon to 6 p.m. on Monday through Friday and noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday; or by calling 540-231-5300.

Parking is available in the North End Parking Garage on Turner Street. Virginia Tech faculty and staff possessing a valid Virginia Tech parking permit can enter and exit the garage free of charge. Event parking for visitors is $5. Event passes may be purchased in advance through the Center for the Arts box office or when entering the garage on event evenings. Limited street parking is also available. Parking on Alumni Mall is free on weekdays after 5 p.m. and on weekends.



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