Bhai Gurmit Singh Virdee (1937-2005)

Darbar came about, initially as a tribute concert to the late Bhai Gurmit Singh Virdee, a tabla player and teacher who had a revolutionary way of teaching. He influenced the lives of countless students that he taught over a period of fifty years and gained the respected of many fellow musicians.

Gandan bandan ceremony with Pandit Samta Prasad Ji
and Ustad Vilayat Khan in the background, Kenya

Born in India and raised in Kenya, Gurmit Ji’s interest in Indian classical music started whilst volunteering at his local Gurdwara (temple) in Kenya. After moving to the UK his life took on a more spiritual path; he stopped playing tabla professionally and concentrated on accompaniment for Gurbani Kirtan (Sikh hymns) and teaching. In 1983, Gurmit Ji started teaching Indian classical music at the Leicestershire School of Music, one of the most successful schools of its kind in the UK. Gurmit ji, was a natural teacher and developed a unique style of teaching tabla to English-speaking students. Outside of teaching, Gurmit Ji was instrumental in promoting percussion such as through the work of TAAL - Rhythms of India in 1987, which elevated the status of tabla solos, Chakardar which runs residential music courses and Tabla Online. Gurmit Ji sadly passed on in 2005, survived by his wife, Mohinder, and his children Shaminder, Sandeep, Harmeet and Ameeta. A tribute festival was organised with the support of his students and fellow musicians. Gurmit Ji’s son, Sandeep, curated the festival, which was a huge success. A year later, the Darbar Arts Culture & Heritage Trust was born, and Sandeep continues to curate the annual Darbar Festival and ensure the legacy of his father’s vision lives on.

Festival 2021

16-24 October, Barbican Centre

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