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Alok Verma

If I had to put a date to my musical journey- it probably began in the womb. My mother is a singer and I dont doubt that the first notes that slipped into my pre-natal consciousness were hers. She and my father were my greatest inspiration and I fed on the creative expression that was innate to them. As a 2 year old, I would follow my father into tabla class and during these wanderings discovered my natural inclination to the instrument. This inclination turned into a passion and at the age of 7 I started learning Tabla. For me this meant devoting a minimum of 7 hours daily, for the next 12 years! It has since helped me carve a niche for myself in this beautiful world of music.

Although training was rigorous, it was a 12 year buzz. At 8, I had my first public performance with mom and by 13, I was working with All India Radio on numerous recordings. I won all my school, inter-school, inter-college competitions, performed local gigs and simultaneously worked with the Gujarati film industry. In 1998 I won the Classical Tabla Solo competition at national level in India.

My work with Bollywood followed this, and it was amazing to play with the artistes and Directors that I had grown up admiring. Alongside studying for a Bachelors Degree in Commerce.

Although it was an exciting period I began to feel limited by the scope of music and wanted to push those boundaries to explore further. My first UK tour in 2001 was a timely catalyst, and I came back from India to read for M.B.A. So it was as a student here that I began flirting with international music. The raw exposure to such diversity of music and musical traditions felt completely surreal. It was a concert that led to a job offer as Music Tutor for Ealing Council and I took this on after graduating.

Teaching kids at schools in the Borough was a challenge in itself and teaching a classful of autistic kids has been as deeply satisfying as it has been challenging. I also design and lead workshops to promote South Asian music. I have also stood as one of the Directors of International Music Week - coming to the UK has caused the kind of musical work I do to broaden.

My fling with international music has become nothing less than a full blown affair!

Being a percussionist, I have played different forms of percussion with a number of bands including Fusing Naked, Rebel Uprising, UKTransculture, "El Aire" a unique experience of Flamenco Fusion spanning spiritual world music, fusion, indo-jazz, hip-hop and African drumming. Playing the BBC Summer Festival 2004 was again a motivation for me. The on-going projects have been as diverse: from playing at the Winterthur International Film Festival 2004 in Switzerland to portraying Mahatma Gandhi's life through music at "SOAS". Played concerts in various countries like France, Italy, Belgium, Russia, Germany, India, Spain, Switzerland to name a few. The fun doesnt stop, I look to introducing my own style, both Eastern and Western to the borderless WORLD of MUSIC.