I am a musician who is comfortable in many styles and informed by multiple influences. I have studied (and continue to study) South Indian, Indonesian, Arab, Turkish and Western European musics. As a percussionist, I am invariably drawn to forms of music which have a strong sense of groove or rhythmic drive. Conversely (some would say ironically) I also have a weakness for a beautiful tune.
The musics which inspire and influence me the most as a performer and composer are those which combine strong melodies and powerful rhythms, including Karnatak (classical South Indian) music, Sundanese gamelan degung, the classical Arab takht, Rom (gypsy) music from Rajasthan to Istanbul to Seville, the string quartets of Terry Riley and Leos Janacek, and pretty much anything the Oscar Peterson Trio (with Ray Brown and Ed Thigpen) ever recorded!
Although I have performed as a percussionist in many situations, I am most at home performing as a hand drummer. My favourite instruments are the Turkish darbuka, Arabic riq, Sundanese kendang, and several types of frame drum, from tar to bodhran to kanjira.
In recent years, I have appeared on stage with many of Canada’s finest performers, including vocalist/composer Suba Sankaran, mezzo-soprano Paula Rockwell, percussionist Patrick Graham, Evergreen Club Contemporary Gamelan, autorickshaw, ORO! Orkestra, Blue Lotus Trio, El Viento Flamenco, Sanctuary Trio, the Acadia Gamelan Ensemble, and the South Indian mrdangam virtuoso (and my guru), Professor Trichy Sankaran. I have also been fortunate to perform with the Iranian master of the bagpipe, Mohsen Sharifian, and several times (both in Asia and Canada) with my friend and mentor, the Indonesian master musician, Ade Suparman.
My compositions have been performed by TorQ Percussion, the Quey Percussion Duo, the University of North Carolina Percussion Ensemble, autorickshaw, Blue Engine String Quartet, the Nova Scotia Youth Orchestra, Talambra, as well as my own world-percussion group, Ken Shorley Trio. She Shines for mixed percussion quartet, was a 2nd place winner in the 2014 TorQ Percussion Composition Competition. My hand drum duo piece, Prelude and Episode (available from HoneyRock Publishing) was a finalist in the Quey Percussion Duo’s composition contest in 2007. See the Music page for sheet music currently available for purchase.
I am an active instructor and educator. I have led many workshops in Canada, sharing both introductory and intermediate techniques on frame drum and darabuka, as well as sessions focusing on solkattu, the South Indian rhythmic language. In addition, I am a member of the music faculty at Acadia University, where I have taught courses in world drumming, Indonesian gamelan, percussion and advanced rhythm.