KARACHI, May 25: Inspiring instrumentals, decent vocal performances and a bit of dance recital marked the first day of the two-day All Pakistan Music Conference on Friday evening on the National Academy of Performing Arts (Napa) premises.
The first item of the 10th annual conference was a dance performance by Sheema Kermani’s students after which the music conference formally began. Tabla maestro Ustad Khurshid Husain made an appearance with a sarangi nawaz and immediately won over the audience, who with the passage of time had trickled in to fill up the Napa lawns, with his heart-racing 16 matra (beat). He informed music lovers, in reasonable detail, what the 16 matra entailed and called it the mother of all beats. During his stay on stage, he presented quite a few variations of the beat cycle and did so with effortless ease.
Mumtaz Sabzal needs no introduction. When it comes to banjo playing in the subcontinent he has carved a niche for himself. The humility that he exudes as a person reflects in his art. He presented raga ayman in mughlai taal and got into the groove from the moment he touched the first note. He nicely captured the innate mellifluousness of the raga and the best part of it was that the musician seemed to be enjoying his own performance that made the composition all the more sweet.
Mr Sabzal then played a folk tune, with the help of a bow, and did equally well.
Next up was singer Sanwal Husain. He was accompanied by Mr Aslam on tabla, Karim on dholak, Irshad on harmonium, Wajid on tanpura and Akhtar Husain on sarangi. His first piece was a thumri in raga khamaj. The singer did a reasonable job. One felt he was trying too hard to impress the audience because of which occasionally he lost their interest. The singer’s next item was also semi-classical and he rounded off his stint with a kaafi by Khwaja Ghulam Farid.
Then vocalist Tanvir Ahmed Khan made an appearance and it did not take him long to grab the audience attention. His presentation of raga puriya dhanashree was not flawless but was pretty impressive as a whole. His control over the lower notes was noteworthy and the delicate moves (jaghein, harkatein) that he made during his singing also impressed those in the venue who understood the finer points of classical music. Sarangi player Akhtar Husain, a seasoned musician, praised him then and there, which speaks for the singer’s ability. His second piece was a kaafi originally sung by Ustad Salamat Ali Khan.
The final performer of the evening came from Abdullah Niazi qawwal and his group. They started off with a famous Tan Ras Khan bandish in raga bhairav. Their act had all the ingredients that make qawwali a worthwhile musical genre. They followed it up with a kalam by Amir Khusrau and did justice to it.