The only known marimba-tabla duo in Canada, Calgary-based Rod Thomas Squance and Abbas Janmohamed, play a unique concert in Metchosin on Jan. 18.
Currently teaching ethnomusicology – the study of music in cultural context – and percussion at the University of Calgary, Squance is quickly gaining recognition as one of Canada’s most exciting musicians.
He has worked with such globally-recognized and appreciated musicians as Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Project, Cuban woodwind player Paquito de Rivera and Korean percussionist Dong-Won Kim, as well as performing regularly with the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra.
Janmohamed is one of only a handful of professional Canadian tabla players (a traditional Indian drum much like a bongo) and has been working with Squance since 2008.
Squance has high praise for his fellow musician.
“Abbas is a brilliant tabla player, and watching him play is very exciting as he astonishes audiences with how fast his hands can play,” he says.
Squance believes he and Janmohamed’s music is unique in the world.
“Our instrument combination of Abbas on tabla and myself on marimba is something that I am unaware exists anywhere else, playing traditional Indian classical style.
“It is doubtless that marimbists and tabla players have played together before, but what Abba and I do is perform in the Hindustani classical style, one of the world’s most highly sophisticated classical musics, having both studied the centuries-old conventions of this music seriously.”
While tabla traditionally accompany this style of music, combining it with the marimba – a xylophone from Central America – creates a unique sound that goes from lyrical to rhythmically charged and back again, he says.
The Metchosin performance will be based on “improvisation within traditional conventions,” Squance says. He can’t say exactly what it will entail, though he says it’s sure to be entertaining.
“Abbas and I have performed together so much that we can almost read each others’ minds on stage. Audiences love to see the unspoken communication between us as we perform.”
The concert takes place at at St. Mary’s Anglican Church, 4354 William Head Rd. For more information or to purchase tickets – $15 for adults, $5 for students – contact the Metchosin Community Association at 250-487-5115 or stop by their home at 4430 Happy Valley Rd.