Ashesh Kulung Rai, young Nepali tabla player
Ashesh Kulung Rai at the age of 19 is a wonderful tabla player. Fascinated by the Eastern Classical music from a very young age, he believes that he inherited musical talents from his father’s side. His grandfather Ram Hari Gurung was a tabla player in the palace of Chandra Sumsher. Gurung had spent 24 years in India studying with renowned ustaads and still at the age of 87 years, he continues to play.
Ashesh learned this talent from his grandfather who used to bribe him with sweets and chow–chow and he believes that nobody could have passed on the lineage of traditional music the way his grandfather did. He feels gratitude and gratefulness towards his grandfather as well as father. At the ‘Jazz for the next Generation’ band contest that kicked off Surya Nepal Jazzmandu 2012, he was selected as the outstanding musician by a panel of visiting international musicians. Although it is a big achievement, he considers it as one of the many milestones. His career began when he was very young, walking about the house banging on everything. Later at the age of six or seven, he found his instrument when he tried to ‘play’, his grandfather’s unguarded tabla with a hammer.
He developed his prodigious gift under the guidance of his grandfather and in 2009 at the age of 16 years, he won the prize for Best Tabla Player and Best Overall Musician at Kirateshwor’s annual traditional music contest. He received his Master of Music degree in tabla from the Pragya Sangeet Samiti in India and in the same year, he also won a scholarship to study at KJC where he has won praises from many respected musicians for his talent.
An avid lover of music, Ashesh Kulung Rai disregards the classification of music into genres as he believes that putting genres to music is barring it. He wants to bring East and West onto a common ground creating a real fusion. He wants to utilize all the possibilities of tabla and not leave it limited to playing copied western drums and grooves.