Nepal’s newest music festival is guaranteed to start with a bang. Surya Nepal Drum Jatra next week will feature the heavy beats of metal, wood and leather drums alongside delicate sounds of bells and singing bowls. The damphu, madal and dholak will inject a Nepali flavour to this international event.

“We want to showcase the variety of styles we have in drums because Nepal is so rich in them, but we hardly ever celebrate drums,” says festival organiser Navin Chhetri. “Every major city in the world has drum festivals, except Kathmandu — we wanted to start something new.”

Kathmandu will reverberate 24-29 June with Drum Jatra concerts that will feature Nepali sounds like Naykhibaja, the drumming of the butcher community in Bhaktapur, which was almost lost due to caste stigma, and Tamang Selo, which embodies the history of that hill community.

Foreign rhythms will sound out courtesy of the Australian didgeridoo and in the person of Esad Halilovich, an acclaimed drummer from Vienna who will add a Balkan flavour.

Along with performances, a series of workshops by experts will allow aspiring drummers to tap into Nepali percussion styles and Afro-Brazilian beats. Events will take place all over the city, culminating with the finale at Summit Hotel on 29 June.

Read also: Kathmandu, and all that jazz …, Sewa Bhattarai

Esad Halilovic

Jazz drummer, composer and teacher based in Vienna the trio-playing Halilovice has presented his compositions at renowned international jazz festivals. He will also be giving workshops on hand techniques for drummers and improvisation of drum sets.

Performs: Traditional folk music from the Balkans in the language of contemporary jazz.

Kathmandu Baja Puca

A young group performing in the Naykhibaja tradition. Nay refers to Newar butchers, with whom the tradition originated, khi means drum, and baja denotes an instrument or musical ensemble. The butchers were considered untouchable, and their musical legacy was forgotten as youngsters rejected it because of the caste stigma.

Performs: The recovered Naykhibaja repertoire with pride, with determination to preserve it for future.

Abhaya Krishna Shrestha

Musician, composer and ethnomusicologist with expertise in processional drumming in Kathmandu Valley, Shrestha documents different Nepali drumming traditions, exploring ways to bring them into the academic realm and international contemporary music. His initiative to learn the Naykhibaja of Bhaktapur's Newar butcher community has raised its profile.

Performs: Dhimaybaja, Navabaja of Bhaktapur, Naykhibaja of butchers of Bhaktapur, and Dapha music.


Salil Subedi

A pioneer didgeridoo player who has explored the ancient wind instrument’s potential beyond music, employing it in theatre, performance art, sound art, and social and public art for educational, social and cultural causes. His central theme is nature and spirituality.

Performs: unique styles of didgeridoo as a percussive and rhythmic instrument, revealing the versatile nature of the instrument and the performer.

Kiran Sahi

A drummer and percussionist with a long record of performance and teaching, Sahiis best known for playing with the Nepali progressive rock band Jindabaad and the jazz ensembles Le-piro Quintet and Mad Jazz Quintet.

Performs: Drums and other percussion instruments with a flavour of progressive rock and jazz.

Rabin Lal Shrestha

A leading figure of classical music in Nepal, and one of the country’s most respected and renowned musical performers, recording artists and educators, Shrestha taught music in the royal palace for over two decades. He has lectured and headed a department at the Fine Arts Campus of Tribhuvan University.

Performs: Percussion instruments in classical style.

Naresh Prajapati

A percussionist specialising in Madal Tarang, Prajapati studied traditional Nepali percussion under the maestros Nuchhe Bhadur Dangol and Rabin Lal Shrestha, and his work appears on albums such as Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia Live! in Nepal.

Performs: A wide range of traditional drums like madal, tabla, dholak, shimmy and khi.

Navin Chettri

A percussionist, vocalist, composer and music educator, and founder and artistic director of the Kathmandu Jazz Festival (popularly called Jazzmandu). Chhetri is a pioneer of jazz in Nepal, and a driving force behind its growth.

Performs: Jazz, Nepali folk, Indian classical, West African, Afro -Cuban and Brazilian rhythms

Mangal Man Maharjan

An accomplished singing- bowl artist, as well as theatre practitioner and Charya dancer, Maharjan is a keen collector and historian of singing bowls, and strives to unearth the ancient roots of the bowls in Newari culture.

Performs: Singing bowl, in order to preserve and revive its traditions in the Kathmandu Valley.

Tamba Group

A group performing in the Tamang Selo style, a musical tradition central to Tamang culture. Tamba songs are one of the oldest and most prized parts of Tamang musical tradition and integral to rituals and habits that mark the course of every Tamang’s life, from birth to death. This ensemble presents a glimpse of Tamang culture and history.

Performs: Tamang rituals, folktales and beliefs to the rhythmic accompaniment of the Damphu drum.

Cadenza Collective

A unique and eclectic band in Kathmandu. From humble beginnings in the early 1990s as a rock, funk and reggae outfit, Cadenza went on to become among the first bands to experiment with jazz in Nepal, pumping vitality into the country's improvised music scene.

Performs: Jazz, afro-funk and Nepali folk music, creating a genre-bending sound that’s irresistible to the ears.

Read also: Jazzmandu Finale, Sewa Bhattarai


24 June

10:00 am- 11:00 am / Hand technique for Drummers - Esad Loliovich

11:00 am - 12:00pm / Nepali Folk Percussion Presentation - Abhay Shrestha

1:00pm - 2:00 pm / Essential Grooves for Jazz Drummers - Navin Chettri

2:00pm- 3:00pm /Afro - Cuban / Brazilian Rhythm Section - Navin Chettri

25 June

10:00 am- 11:00 am / J Dilla on Drumset - Kiran Shahi

11:00 am - 12:00pm / Madal Tarang - Naresh Prajapati

1:00pm - 2:00 pm / Essential Grooves for Jazz Drummers - Navin Chettri

2:00pm- 3:00pm /Afro - Cuban / Brazilian Rhythm Section - Navin Chettri

26 June

10:00 am- 11:00 am / Drum-set Improvisation - Esad Loliovich

11:00 am - 12:00pm / Healing with Singing Bowls - Mangal Man Maharajan

1:00pm - 2:00 pm / Essential Grooves for Jazz Drummers - Navin Chettri

2:00pm- 3:00pm /Afro - Cuban / Brazilian Rhythm Section - Navin Chettri




‘Cadenza & Multi Drummers’

Show Time: 8:00pm to 10:00pm

Venue: Jazz Upstairs, Lazimpat

Ticket: Rs 500/-

Multiple drummers come together with Cadenza Collective to create a night of infectious grooves at Jazz Upstairs.

(Gates open at 7:30pm. Seats are based on a first-come, first-served basis, and are not guaranteed with a ticket).



‘Cadenza & Multi Drummers’

Show Time: 8:00pm to 10:00pm

Venue: Moksh, Jhamsikhel

Ticket: Rs 500/-

Bringing Cadenza & Multi Drummers across the bridge to Moksh, a special showcase of multiple drummers with Cadenza Collective.

(Gates open at 7:30pm. Seats are based on a first-come, first-served basis, and are not guaranteed with a ticket).



'Subtle Sounds of Percussions'

Show Time: 7:00pm to 9:00pm

Venue: Kantipur Temple House, Thamel

Ticket: Rs 1000/-

Featuring the subtle, delicate and charismatic colours of drums at Kantipur Temple House with visiting drummers and some of Nepal's top traditional percussionists.

(Gates open at 6:30pm and closes at 7:30pm. Seats are based on a first-come, first-served basis, and are not guaranteed with a ticket).



Show Time: 7:00pm to 9:00pm

Venue: Summit Hotel, Sanepa Height

Ticket: Rs 800/-

The Finale will showcase some of the top festival performers, with high-energy drumming traditions spanning from western percussion ensembles, African drumming styles and Brazilian rhythms to traditional Nepali drums, such as Madal tarang and Women’s Tamang Selo ensemble.

(Gates open at 6:30pm. Seats are based on a first-come, first-served basis, and are not guaranteed with a ticket).

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