Jon and Ricky’s performance for us was absolutely brilliant! They entertained our audience in the most professional manner – consulting with us first to decide what to play and for how long. The music was awe inspiring, meditative and thoroughly uplifting. Everyone felt that they’d been temporarily transported somewhere for more exotic! They are both first class musicians and it was a real privilege to hear them play. I can highly recommend Samswara. Maria Salak
“Thank you again for the wonderful tranquil performance you gave at the start of the festival. It was very beautiful and inspiring and one of the highlights of the festival, an amazing feeling to open a festival with.”
Jamie Sidebottom, Watchet Festival 2013
“Jon and Ricky were asked to play at the Oakwood Bollywood Ball this summer at very short notice. They were extremely professional, amenable and flexible to our requirements by working with us in partnership to ensure our needs were met and the evening was a success. The wonderful Indian ambiance created by them during the pre dinner drinks was carried on into the evening whilst guests ate their evening meal. A number of guests gave really positive feedback both on the evening and after the ball. Thank you for ensuring the ball was a fantastic success! Without hesitation, we would recommend you both for any future event. Once again, thank you so much, you were fantastic!”
Becca and Rachel
“We are so pleased we chose you to play at Anya’s Namkaran Sanskar, you were definitely worth every penny! The sound of the sitar and tabla were beautiful and really set the ambience for the occasion. We were also impressed by your timeliness, your polite manner and your knowledge of our culture. You would never have known that this was your first performance at a Namkaran Sanskar. The music was truly synced and in tune with the event and pundit ji during his prayers, it all came so naturally to you. Just hearing the sound of the sitar alongside pundit’s prayers made the whole atmosphere truly magical. Thank you so much!”
Asha & family, Kamini & family and not forgetting Anya
“When I first booked Ricky & Jon I had worried that the guests wouldn’t get a classical Sitar and Tabla act. Crikey, was I wrong. Their ovation at the end of the end of the performance was standing and prolonged. My Indian guests thought they were one the best duo’s they had heard. Ricky’s Sitar playing virtuosity is a gifted thing of real and exceptional beauty. The musical rapport with Jon, his supporting and talented Tabla player, was seamless and unending. I didn’t ask, but I imagine these two have been together for a good few years. Ricky & Jon helped turn a special day into a fantastic one. A class act.”
“Thanks so much for a wonderful concert on Saturday. I just loved the sitar and tabla pieces, which were each like little gems.”
Victoria Thomas, Chair, Simonsbath Festival 2013
“We recently got married in April 2012, and had both Jon & Ricky perform at our wedding. I am a Sikh, and my wife is English. We wanted to celebrate the two cultures together at our marriage, so we went on the search for musicians who could complement this idea. We searched for many hours, and also reviewed many sites offering this service. We are so glad that we chose both Jon & Ricky as they were amazing. One of the things we love about these guy’s, is their passion and love for what they do (just watch ANY of their videos!). This was the main reason, accompanied by their impressive knowledge and musical talent that made the decision for us. Once I made contact with Jon, the booking process was simple and extremely well communicated. We spoke as necessary, as my booking involved having both an indoor and outdoor performance. Even before we had confirmed our booking, we were invited to see them play at Colston Hall in Bristol, which we took up appreciatively. It was clear that these guys know what they are doing, and are very popular, rightly so.
On the day, everything went extremely well. The music, went down a real treat, and we had so many guests compliment the skills and sound from the tabla & sitar played by Jon & Ricky. We echo all of the other testimonials, and have since recommended both Jon & Ricky to friends. Seeing them again was a real pleasure. Again, many guests complimented their talent and took their contact details for future events. We also have them at the top of our list for future bookings. If you are seriously looking for a musical duo who will add fun, calm, passion, and celebration to your event, and you really want to stand out from the crowd then book them now. Just do it.”
Kirpal & Katy Gandhi
“Heartfelt thanks for the truly beautiful experience you provided yesterday. The wonderful interaction between you, the intricate rhythmic complexities, and the amazing progression of the Rag from contemplative stillness to frenetic joy will never be forgotten. I am greatly looking forward to hearing you both again and will treasure the CD. I hope you may record that lovely piece about the God’s river crossing someday.”
Dr R Godfrey
“Mr Ricky Romain’s performance on the Sitar for our wedding reception was absolutely superb! Both our family and friends were mesmerized by the music and it was the perfect music for our reception.”
Richard and Geetha
“It was a treat to listen to Jon Sterckx and Ricky Romain on the tabla and sitar respectively. Jon and Ricky gave a short but superb introduction to Indian music, explained some of the difference between western and Indian styles and captivated the audience later with the rendition of the Bhairavi raga in Vilambit, Madhya and Drut tintaal.
Jon and Ricky engaged very well with the audience providing a thrilling performance and deserving the rapturous applause they received at the end.”
Music Mela, Basingstoke
“It seemed like a big risk to bring classical Indian music to the heart of Exmoor, but the audience responded enthusiastically to Ricky and Jon’s openness and warmth in introducing the evening’s programme and were thoroughly absorbed throughout the performance. There was a really great atmosphere.”
Victoria Thomas (Simonsbath Festival Organiser, Devon)
“Ricky and Jon played at my marriage to my wife Dilara on a beautiful summer’s day in late August 2011 in Bromley, Kent – and I cannot emphasize quite enough how wonderful it was to have them honour our special day with their performance.
From start to finish they have both been absolute gentlemen to deal with; precise through the booking process and extremely reliable on the day – they were kind enough to arrive at the venue a good couple of hours early to set up the equipment on an outdoor stage, and went on to perform superbly for hours. Ricky and Jon created an ambience where the elegance of their music melted into the warm sunshine and the celebratory mood; our guests were mesmerized, and I myself have never heard classical Indian music played to such a high standard anywhere. My deeply traditional parents, who pride themselves on their knowledge of Indian culture and music, were equally impressed.
Throughout the day they were a joy to have present – gracious, polite and charismatic – and we were all sorry to see them leave as evening drew near. I would recommend Ricky and Jon without a moment’s hesitation for an event of any kind, given that they enhanced ours beyond measure. Feel free to contact me if you require any further clarification: drsumitdutta at yahoo dot com”
Dr Sumit Dutta
“Until now, Ilminster Arts Centre concerts have focussed almost entirely on jazz and classical music. Our first venture into World music, with Ricky Romain, sitar and Jon Sterckx, tabla, was seen as a bold move, carrying with it a significant risk of a small audience. How wrong we were. Preceded by a delightful curry supper, the near capacity crowd enjoyed an evening of spellbinding music, which the majority had never heard live before. The reaction of seemingly everyone present was overwhelmingly positive, with most saying (including myself) that they had never properly listened to this sort of music before.
As a lifelong jazz aficionado, I was myself doubtful about tuning my ear to the Sitar and Tabla, but I had not realised how much in common these two musical genres have. The ragas began with a very slow introduction, with many intriguing similarities to traditional guitar blues, which gradually developed into a very simple tune comprising only twelve notes, of which probably only five were different. Ricky and Jon then proceeded to spend about forty minutes to play each of them. These notes, and the key and scale from which they came was chopped up, mixed around, turned upside down, back to front, formed into ascending and descending spirals and many other shapes, punctuated every so often with a reminder of where we started, all the while building a relentless rhythm and intensity. The performance made me think of the many well known extended jazz performances based on classic “standards”, whist at the same time the build up of intensity was reminiscent of Ravel’s Bolero (a favourite of mine, but admittedly not everybody’s).
From the original pre-concert doubts, this turned out to be a superbly atmospheric and fascinating evening’s entertainment which delighted everyone present.”
Tony Hayward (Ilminster Arts Centre)
“Ricky and John perform as though they are sharing an instrumental conversation – but it is not only with each other – it feels as though we are all the time included as their audience. Hauntingly beautiful, the music they play envelopes the listener like a balm. By the end of the evening I felt calm, peaceful and gentle. It is a privelege and joy to have them performing at the Pierian Centre.”
June Burrough (Founder Director of The Pierian Centre)
“Ricky Romain has been a highly inspiring and popular associate lecturer in the University of Plymouth Music department for a number of years. His inputs for us centre around workshop/recitals in classical Indian music and his great gift is to establish a bridge between students of the western culture and the Indian tradition.
An artist of great integrity, this shines through in both his performances and his careful individual dealings with students. Special elements of note which feature in his sessions range from establishing an understanding of the architecture of the raga through to the transcendental and dynamic qualities fundamental to the performance of this music.
Ricky is sensitive to the leanings of the contemporary music student and also understands the requirements of the university system, having directed sizeable elements of taught modules, individually and with a tabla player. He is 100% reliable and we always look forward to his various inputs.”
Phil Hull (Head of Music Plymouth University)
“I have worked with Ricky Romain since 1994. As a classically trained Violinist, I had never improvised before or played Indian music. Ricky’s warmth, passion and skill as a Sitar player gave me the inspiration and encouragement to begin an adventure of Sitar and Violin playing that continues today.
Ricky has a tremendously open-minded, inclusive approach to music making and I believe he could find a musical meeting place with any musician from any culture. He gave me the confidence to jump away from the written note into the creative flame of improvisation – a liberating experience. Playing together is always a rich and joyous musical occasion. Thank you Ricky!”
Sudhi Salooja GRSM ARCM
“I have been learning North Indian classical sitar from Ricky Romain for the last three years. In this time I have learned a great deal about Indian classical music theory, playing technique, improvisation and performance conventions. Learning to play Indian music from Ricky has not only been a fantastic and inspiring personal experience, it has also provided insights and ideas which have aided my academic interests and research projects.
Since I began learning, Ricky has urged me to perform and improvise, thereby I have gained confidence through experience and through Ricky’s ongoing encouragement – both of which I have found vital for learning.”
Jasmine Hornabrook Ethnomusicology (PhD student)
“I have been a sitar student of Ricky’s for the past eleven years. I started off as a complete novice, but I have always been fascinated with exotic Eastern music. Under Ricky’s tutorship I have come not only to enjoy Indian music and to play the sitar to a good standard- but he has helped me to understand the music in a cultural and modal context.
His patience and warmth have kept me fascinated with the instrument, and, although I don’t practice as much as I feel I ought to, I’m very pleased with the progress I have made- I am now able to write and arrange music for the sitar, and recently we have recorded some pieces. Thank you Ricky for teaching me a beautiful instrument, and extending my musical vistas!
Dave Walsham (drama teacher and musician)
“Working with Ricky has been fantastic for me. The way he teaches seems to enable me to access the music in a way that is clear and is just a joy. We do work hard, but we also laugh a great deal, each lesson we discover a new layer of joy in the Raga..
Ricky is one of a handful of people that I like to just be with, he has been an inspiration to me in many ways and my life would have been poorer for not having met him. Just wish I had started playing with him ten years ago, no time to waste.”
Richard Gonzalez (International man of mystery)
“Ricky has a style of teaching which is very responsive to the individual student. He guides people through the music while listening to what way of teaching best suits them. He expected me to improvise from early on, was encouraging and helped me build in confidence and keep challenging myself.
He presents lessons in a flexible way, following the structure of the raga, but still open to questions and changing direction. Because I play the cello, Ricky played a big part in helping me translate form sitar to cello. He was interested in my predicament, beginning to learn Indian Classical music on an instrument not built for it! He researched and showed me books and recordings of relevant musicians.
Ricky has so much joy from music, and communicates this in his playing and teaching, I always feel inspired by hearing him and playing together. I am really grateful to Ricky for his sensitive approach, for introducing me to this music, and I respect him very much as a musician and friend.”