KARACHI, June 28: How do we define Tehzeeb? Tehzeeb-i-Akhlaq is good breeding and Tehzeeb-yafta is refined, polite, educated and civilized. In naming their enterprise the protagonists — Sharif Awan and Malahat Awan — must have carefully deliberated upon the all encompassing meaning of the word. Their achievement in the present day inhospitable environment for art and culture is, indeed, praiseworthy.
Established five years ago with the objective of advancing the cause of literature and fine arts, Tehzeeb Foundation has so far produced 28 CDs and three DVDs of music including the prestigious Indus Raag, (a set of 12 CDs) that constitutes recordings of 26 artists from Pakistan and India — sitarist Ustad Rais Khan, Mohan-Veena player Pandit Vishwa Mohan Bhatt, sitarists Ustad Shahid Pervaiz and Ashraf Sharif Khan, vocalists Ustad Raza Khan, Ustad Fateh Ali Khan, Ustad Mubarak Ali Khan and others. In this endeavor, Indian and Pakistani maestros featured together for the first time in the history of the two countries. But the Foundation’s most worthy achievement in my opinion has been the archiving of Indo-Pakistani classical and folk music.
The two-day annual Tehzeeb Festival & Awards 2013 commenced at Hotel Marriot on June 27.
This year’s award for literature is named after the respected teacher, author, researcher, critic and linguist, the late Syed Abul Khair Kashfi.
The award for poetry is named after the late poetess and intellectual, Shabnam Shakeel. Shabnam was the daughter of famous poet and intellectual Abid Ali Abid.
The Literature Award was given to scholar, teacher, poet and critic, Prof Dr Aslam Farrukhi, and well known BBC broadcaster and author, Raza Ali Abidi.
Shabnam Shakeel Award for Poetry went to former Karachi University Vice Chancellor, scientist, writer and poet, Peerzada Qasim, and Akbar Masoom, a physically challenged poet from Sanghar, Sindh.
Five more awards for Fine Arts & Literature, Fine Arts, Classical Music and Folk Music went to Anwar Maqsood, Naiza Khan, Ustad Naseeruddin Sami, tabla maestro Altaf Husain Tafoo and Banjo player Mumtaz Ali Sabzal respectively. Shields were also given to ‘friends’ of Tehzeeb.
Prior to the award giving ceremony and in the literary session, poetry was read out by Akbar Masoom from his book ‘Aur Kahan Tak Jana Hai’ (He is also the translator of the Sindhi novel, ‘Hama Oost’ by Agha Salim). To quote a verse of Akbar Masoom: Neend mein gunguna raha hoon maen; Khawab ki dhun bana raha hoon maen.
Mr Abidi beautifully described the plight of the Mighty River Indus that starts as a child in Ladakh in eastern Kashmir and ends up in Shah Bunder in Sindh — an old, haggard, miserable entity. It was greatly applauded by the audience.
Anwar Maqsood in his inimitable style presented an interview with poet Dagh Dehlavi in which he titillates the poet who retorts in verses.
Dr Peerzada Qasim and Dr Aslam Farrukhi delivered thought-provoking speeches. Dr Peerzada’s two nazm ‘Lamha’ (moment) and ‘Hum khud bhi apne sathi hain’ touched the heart of poetry lovers, and Dr Farrukhi’s loving and frank reminiscences of his friend Kashfi with whom he enjoyed a love-hate relationship was a treat. He underlined the need for establishment of music training institutions in the country.
In the third session that began at 9pm, invitees were treated to folk, classical and world music. Omar Surozi, a grand old man from Gwadar, was a great discovery who played his Sarinda in a jugalbandi with banjo player Mumtaz Ali Sabzal. His old and frail fingers ran effortlessly on the strings of the ancient instrument that was a real treat for music ears. All credit to the organizers for presenting the two extraordinary musicians from Balochistan who presented quite a few not so familiar folk tunes on the chromatic scale — using all the 12 notes of the octave.
Again, one heard for the first time Ustad Mehfooz Khokhar, an atai (self-taught, but a disciple of Abdul Qadir Piarang) vocalist from Rawalpindi who through hard work learnt classical music and ended up writing five books on the subject. He presented raag Kaushak Dhani, an odho (pentatonic) raag of the Bilawal scale in which the two notes, Re and Pa, are omitted. The darling of Karachi music enthusiasts, Ustad Bashir Khan, accompanied him on the tabla.
Rustam Fateh Ali Khan, son of Ustad Fateh Ali Khan of Patiala gharana, presented Maru Behag, an odho-sampooran raag of the Bilawal scale. His performance was interrupted by unnecessary lecturing that some of our exponents are in the habit of indulging without realising that this mars their performance.
The high point of the evening was the perfectly professional presentation of Gypsy Jazz Music by Caravan Quartet France. The group consisted of Samuel Strouk and Daniel Boyllard on guitar, Oliver Lorang on contec bass and Mathias Levy (vocal). One of their presentations was a song composed in what I believe melodic minor which sounds like our raag Kirwani. At the end, Sharif Awan spoke passionately of his efforts, pointing that he had not excavated the centuries old tradition and presented it to us after dusting it; the tradition itself had fought its battle and travelled to us seena-ba-seena, saz-ba-saz, zehn-ba-zehn. The relationship between art and the artist had been that of the seeker and the giver, of passion and aesthetics. He summed up the evening by reciting the famous Josh Maleehabadi’s poem: “Zindigi, Bageshri, Sarang, Deepak, Sohni …”