Music as a language transcends race, culture, and national frontiers. So it was unsurprising that Francesca Incudine, an Italian singer visiting from Sicily, mesmerised the audience at the National Academy of Performing Arts (NAPA) during a musical evening on Saturday night.
She was accompanied by the Italian maestro Carmelo Colajanni, playing the flute, the clarinet and the Sicilian bagpipes. The highly talented musicians of the academy also formed the orchestra of which three were on guitars, two on sitars and tablas, one on saxophone and two young vocalists.
Francesca performed 15 songs throughout the evening that were incredibly vivacious and her voice was exceptionally melodious. The audience members clapped along rhythmically to her numbers and chimed in at certain places as well.
Carmelo too seemed to be equally at-home. The introduction of the Sicilian bagpipes to the Pakistani audience was another redeeming feature of the evening as the wind instrument is more commonly associated with Scotland. However, they sounded exactly like the Scottish ones.
As an instrumental interlude, the orchestra presented a trade mark Sindhi tune, “Paireen Pawindi Saan,” written by Shah Latif pertaining to the Sassi-Pannu episode. Astoundingly, even the foreign members of the orchestra put up an astute performance.
Fransesca performed a song which, when translated into English, means change. It was a profound melody as without our being aware of it, we are subject to change every moment brought by the ravages of time. Accordingly, the rhythm of this number was more sober and lilting in comparison to the other ones. Her voice, however, was simply alluring.
She also performed the famous Italian number Volare, which was played to death on the radio in Pakistan in the early 1960s, sung by the late Hollywood star and crooner, Dean Martin. For many it must have brought back fond memories of the days when music was truly a sublime and beautiful pursuit.
It would also be unfair to overlook the contribution of the NAPA in-house musicians. Special mention must be made of two promising, young female vocalists, Simal and Sajar. They rendered the Italian numbers most fluently accompanied by skillful saxophone playing by Adesh Kumar of the academy, while lead sitarist Ustad Nafees Khan also put up an astute performance. Another memorable part of the show was when all the stars, including Fransesca, sang the Pakistani national song, “Hum Zinda Qaum Hain” in unison. While there were around 15 people singing, Fransesca’s voice stood out, complete with an impeccable Urdu accent.