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Dheeraj Shrestha

Find out more about Dheeraj Shrestha – one of the feature artists for QPAC’s ensemble in residence, JADE

2 min read

Dheeraj Shrestha


Internationally acclaimed Nepalese born Dheeraj Shrestha is recognised as the foremost Tabla player in Australia. An irrepressible creativity, tremendous clarity and exciting rhythmic improvisation are his stylistic hallmarks, and this has established him, worldwide, as one of the finest exponents of Tabla in classical and world music.

Dheeraj Shrestha’s hometown, Kathmandu, Nepal stands on the ancient route leading from the Himalayan Mountains down into the valley of Kathmandu. His real relationship with music began when he was five years old listening to classical music by his father. Later he started formal training on Tabla with his guru Pt. Hom Nath Upadhyaya. His father used to take him to play traditional temple music near his home. He was the only child among all the master musicians who were performing at the courtyard temple music.


  1. What instrument/s do you play?

Talking drum called Tabla and Nepalese folk percussion Maadal. They both are melodic instruments. In addition, I also play the Meditation bowl.

  1. If you were describing your instrument to someone who has never heard or seen it before, how would you describe it and how it sounds?

My instruments are like good conversation between a beautiful couple – the tabla for instance, produces both masculine and feminine pitches.

  1. When did you first start playing your instrument/s?

When I was five years old.

  1. Why were you drawn to playing this particular instrument?

It speaks to my heart and gives me a sense of grounding, and earthy sensations.

  1. How do you tune your instrument/s?

By striking a steel hammer on the wooden pegs around the edges of my tabla.

  1. How is your instrument different to the other musicians’ instruments?

The vibration felt while playing the tabla seated cross-legged on the floor creates a great sense of rhythm for me. This instrument depends heavily on the sense of touch and energy generated throughout the body, and that’s the difference in comparison to the other core musicians’ instruments.

  1. How do you like to interact with the other musicians when you perform?

Smile and listen.

  1. What excites you about the music you’re creating with fellow JADE musicians?

I enjoy the improvisation and receiving collective ideas in compositions.

  1. How does water contribute to the sound of your percussion instrument?

The water symbolises the purity and it contributes to tune the percussive meditation bowl. The sound of the water helps with the healing process and stimulates our body.


Acknowledgement of Traditional Custodians

We pay our respects to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander ancestors of this land, their spirits and their legacy. The foundations laid by these ancestors – our First Nations Peoples – gives strength, inspiration and courage to current and future generations, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous, towards creating a better Queensland.