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May 25, 2015

A rollicking end to a musical gala


May 25, 2015

The three-day musical gala jointly arranged by the National Academy of Performing Arts (Napa) and the I am Karachi Consortium came to a flamboyant, rollicking end on Saturday with a wide assortment of music forms being presented by a highly varied group of artistes, extending from ghazal to rock and everything in between.
The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs (PIIA) auditorium, the venue of the festival, was abuzz with rhythmic clapping, screams, and wolf whistles indicative of the audience’s appreciation and involvement.
The most redeeming feature of the show was that it was a really unifying force despite all the diversity, proving unmistakably the unity of the nation. There were vocal numbers from places as far apart as Gilgit and Gujarat Kathiawar. There were Urdu ghazals and the vivacious Punjabi folk numbers, apart from Western pops.
The Tabish-Zawar duo opened the account with a guitar-banjo performance. It was a lovely, jumpy number with an involved audience clapping rhythmically to the beat. This was followed by a Punjabi vocal number, ‘Teri Yaad Satandi’, by Arsalan Amin. True to the Punjabi style, the number involved transiting to the highest notes and Arsalan did so with perfect ease.
In all, 20 numbers were presented and all of them were really praiseworthy. However, two of them deserve special mention.
There was the Napa student, Sidra Tahir, with her Punjabi number, ‘Challa’. It was a highly vivacious number, made all the more so through her highly mellifluous and trained voice and the flamboyant presentation.
She had the audiences really swooning and loudly clapping in rhythm as she sang. Sidra holds lots of promise as a vocalist. Hers surely was the star performance of the evening.
The other one was a lad from the Arts Council Music Academy, Shiraz. Despite his tender age, his voice contained the maturity and melody synonymous with the most seasoned vocalist. His presentation, ‘Socha Tha

Piyar Na Karenge’, originally rendered by the late Kishore Kumar towards the late 1970s, was an exact duplication of Kishore’s flamboyant style and voice.
It was simply delightful hearing him and catapulted one back to an era when film music was immaculate and was not debased by modern pop influences. Like Sidra, he too holds lots of promise to be a prize-winning vocalist.
There was Serish Khimani, supported in chorus by Sidra Tahir and Semeen Murtaza in the Ismaili song, Karim Shah.
Age was no dividing line in the show and while at one end of the scale there were youngsters like Shiraz, at the other were elderly people like M Afzal.
Afzal was visibly elderly but that seemed to be no bar to the display of his zest for music or his talent and he rendered a humorous Punjabi folk song, ‘Suss Dian Chirhkan’ (The mother-in-law’s scolding), in an equally humorous style. The programme was most adroitly compered by Shaista Qazi.
However, a rather unsavoury aspect that emerged at the gala was that just as our music training academies train and groom talent, they should also undertake a programme to train audiences in the art of appreciation and tell them that catcalls, screams, or wolf whistles are no way of expressing admiration or appreciation. These unpleasant sounds just don’t click with something as sublime, something as glorious as music.

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