Classical evening at PNCA

October 27, 2020

Islamabad:‘Raagistan,’ a new series started by Pakistan National Council of the Arts with a debut presentation of Akbar Ali from Jalandhar gharana aims at reviving the traditional...

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Islamabad:‘Raagistan,’ a new series started by Pakistan National Council of the Arts with a debut presentation of Akbar Ali from Jalandhar gharana aims at reviving the traditional aspects of classical music like khayal, thumri and kafi gaiki.

This is an effort not only to promote classical music awareness among the young lot but also to provide an opportunity of listening quality music for the classic lovers. The venture is expected to be a mile stone in order to pay tribute to the legendary classical singers and a source of encouragement for their upcoming generation which is custodian of this precious art form. A good thing was its start exactly on time which is a rarity in this Islamic Republic.

In the Saturday evening show, Akbar was the lead performer accompanied by flutist Hassan Badshah, his cousin Amanat Ali on harmonium and Tauseef Abbas on tabla while the audience also included a bunch of some extremely talented musicians including violinst maestro Raees Ahmad and vocalist Babar Niazi.

Decour was fantastic with 4 circular seats for the performers while maintaining social distance. The audience did not wear masks to the extent needed in the wake of reviving pandemic though one could spot many. The multimedia projector added to the scenario by showing patterns and lights on screen about Raagistan.

Akbar himself also held harmonium which he had to leave at times for waving his both hands with sur and taal in the flow of alaap and ragas. Akbar said that he was in the music since childhood. His grandpapa was a qawwal while his father later shifted to classical music. Akbar focused on classic renditions in 2016 when he was 18. He learnt from his father Bashir Ahmad Khan and elder brother Javed Bashir. But his real teacher was his uncle Ustad Mubarak Ali.

PNCA Director-General Dr Fouzia Saeed introduced the singer and also spoke on different genera of music. She said that khayal is a popular form of gaiki for having asthai and antara.

Akbar only presented a khiyal in Raga Aimen which is from Kalyan Thaat. The raga is a sampuran one, having all seven surs (notes) but all in Teewar. He earned sporadic clapping from the audience.

Fouzia said that she wanted many khayals for the day but for the sake of full performance, the presentation was confined to only one. She said that in the khayals, wording is not that important that was why many ustads scripted their own bols. She said that thumri focuses on andaaz (style) as effort is made to bring out emotions. She liked Akbar’s rendition ‘Nenan meray taras gaye’ in Coke Studio. She liked fusion and experimentation in surs but observed that Coke Studio is not ultimate.

Speaking on the occasion, Akbar said that he performed ‘Janoon kuchh kar ke dikhanay ka’” in India in 2009 and won. He said he enjoyed Indian visit. He also visited Europe and US.

‘Nena moray taras gaye, aaja blum pardesiya’ was his first Thumri in Bhairween. ‘Yad piya ki aaye’ was the second one followed by ‘Sayyiyan mein tau paniyian bharan ko aai.’ Chughalbandi with flute and tabla added to spellbound music.

‘Hans ke yun meri taraf piyar se dekha na karain’ was the last Thumri for which Khurram Latifi from PNC gave composition in the evening on the very day on Tangier Naqvi’s poetry.

Addressing the last part, Dr Fouzia wondered that in modern jean culture, currents are fast but Akbar was still committed with Classical notations. In reply, Akbar said that that ‘jean music is very small and easy act” but keeping khiyal gaeki alive is more necessary.

Dr Fouzia said that in modern music, persons first sing, then learn but in classics, one first learns and then sings. Akbar said that his and his brother’s offspring also learning

Speaking at the Kafi section, Dr Fouzia said that in classical music, Ustadi is in raagdari but in kafi, poetry is more important. Akbar presented Khawaja Farid’s ‘Jani raat reh po’ and ended the show with ‘Man chahay dekhan ko’ in Raga Sarfwati.

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