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North Indian tabla
 
Chris Pereji playing tabla drums., North Indian tabla, 2009; South Attleboro, Massachusetts; Photography by Maggie Holtzberg
Chris Pereji playing tabla drums., North Indian tabla, 2009

South Attleboro, Massachusetts
Photography by Maggie Holtzberg
 
Close up of Chris Pereji and Nisha Purushotham playing tabla drums; Apprenticeship - North Indian tabla; 2009: South Attleboro, Massachusetts
verticle bar Artist
Christopher Pereji
South Attleboro, MA
verticle bar apprentice
Nisha Purushotham
Roxbury, MA
"We don't really count the rhythm when we play; we feel the rhythm. The playing should become a physical, emotional interaction."

A software engineer by profession, Chris Pereji's resume boasts of just as many musical accomplishments as professional. Raised in South India, Chris comes from a long line of musicians and music lovers. Following in his grandfathers' footsteps, he began studying tabla as a teenager. Beginning with instruction from his grandfather, Chris's talent was nurtured through the traditional method of learning called "guru-sishya parampara". In this one-on-one master-disciple tradition, musical vocabulary, knowledge, and skill are passed on orally from gurus to their sishyas from generation to generation. From the very beginning, Chris performed regularly at family gatherings, at school, and at community events. In Massachusetts, where he now resides, he has continued to share his passion for music. Chris is a teacher and performer of harmonium and tabla, a pair of drums that have historically been used as accompaniment in several genres of North Indian music, including classical, folk, devotional, and popular music. Chris has performed with local musicians, and professional vocalists and instrumentalists visiting from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Canada. As an accompanist, Chris always complements his fellow musicians to the fullest. He also sings, and plays the keyboards and guitar with equal flair and fluidity.

Like many other immigrants to the United States who reside in communities with few familiar faces, Nisha Purushotham always had a longing to connect with people who shared her heritage. Although she expressed an interest in drumming as a child, she was never encouraged to pursue this musical path since women percussionists were not very visible at the time. After years of studying piano and clarinet, and singing in school and church choirs, Nisha first explored her childhood dream when she began to study Afro-Caribbean percussion in her late 20's. After months of intensive study, practice, and research, she began leading percussion workshops for people of West African and Caribbean descent in Rhode Island communities. After witnessing the power of learning cultural traditions for individuals within these communities, the seed to study Indian percussion was planted. Since 2003, Nisha has received multiple grants to study the art of tabla from masters in New England. In 2009, she was awarded an MCC Traditional Arts Apprenticeship grant to work with Chris Pereji through the traditional guru-sishya method.
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