India - Training :
Shen Flindell started learning tabla in Melbourne from Sri Debapriya Bhattacharya in 1994 and soon went to the holy city of Varanasi in India to study under Pt. Kaviraj Ashutosh ("Ashu Babu") Bhattacharya, a great tabla master of the Benares Gharana and senior disciple of the legendary Pt. Kanthe Maharaj. Since then he has been to India many times to continue his tabla education and his Guru-ji has guided him to quite a high level. In July 1997 on Guru Purnima, Shen was initiated as a Gandabandhan disciple of the Kanthe Maharaj Baj of Benares Gharana, a rare honour for a Westerner. In 1999 & 2000 he was awarded grants by The Arts Office (Qld) and the Brisbane City Council for tabla studies in Varanasi. In February 2004, Shen was at his Guru-ji's side when he passed away at the age of 86 and since then Shen has taken lessons from his Guru-ji's sons Sris Debapriya & Debabrata Bhattacharya and his other senior students including Sri Parimal Bhattacharya, Sri Govinda Chakraborty and Sri Manishankar Tripathi. In 2010 Shen received an introduction to Delhi, Ajrara and Farukkabad Gharanas from Pt Nayan Ghosh. In 2013 he took up the pakhawaj as a second instrument, in order to accompany Dhrupad vocal performances, and received some guidance from Japanese pakhawaji Sri Tetsuya Kaneko. In 2014 Shen took several influential days of lessons with Pt Suresh Talwalkar, and later that year took some lessons with Sri Hari Om Hari of Varanasi, focusing on light classical styles such as Qawwali, Ghazal and Thumri. Since 2016 Shen has been taking deeper training in the Pt. Kanthe Maharaj baaj of Benares Gharana from Pt Pooran Maharaj.
Shen's tabla playing is noted for his clear sound, comfortable rhythmic sense, intuitive accompaniment, wide repertoire, adept bayan (bass) and a feeling of sincere devotion to Guru, Saraswati, Music and Tabla, thanks to many blessings from his Guru-ji. In recent years, Shen has started performing in concerts in India, most notably in the annual Ashu-Babu Memorial Concert in honour of his late Guru-ji, already becoming a major event in the Varanasi musical calendar.
Nowadays Shen is typically in India (primarily Varanasi) from January to April every year. Major events in Varanasi in this period are: Saraswati Puja home concert at Guru-ji's in Jan or Feb, Shivaratri in Feb, Ashu-Babu Memorial Concert in March, Durga Puja 9 nights practice ritual in March/April, Sankat Mochan music conference in April.
While in Varanasi, Shen also manages shipments of high quality tabla, spare skins and accessories around the world.
Shen is best contacted while in Varanasi by email.