When music, literature and art come together under one roof in a seamless manner it proves, or it should prove, nothing less than a memorable experience. The Tehzeeb Festival and Awards show held in Karachi last week was an event at which art connoisseurs got to see and hear impressive works of art during the course of two days.
A literary readings’ session hosted by Ambreen Hasib Amber set the tone for the festival. Akbar Masoon was the first guest poet. He recited a few of his ghazals which drew a mixed response from literature aficionados.
Renowned writer and humorist Anwar Maqsood read out a piece about an imaginary interview that he conducted of the classical Urdu poet Dagh Dahalvi. It was peppered with typical humour laden one-liners and interesting bantering between the interviewee and the interviewer. Anwar sahib should come up with more of such pieces and compile them into a book. It can be a valuable addition to our literary treasure.
Dr Pirzada Qasim read out a few sensitive poems beginning with Lamha. His poems subtly touched on the dilemmas that our society is faced with as well as on the issues that an individual confronts on a daily basis.
Broadcaster Raza Ali Abidi read out an insightful account of his famous visit to the River Indus. His essay was tinged with grief that he felt while roaming around the region.
Dr Aslam Farrukhi shed light on the life and works of scholar Dr Abul Khair Kashafi and poetess Shabnam Shakeel after whom four awards were named at the festival.
The second session was dedicated to giving away the awards. The recipients were Dr Aslam Farrukhi (S. Abul Khair Kashafi award), Raza Ali Abidi (S Abul Khair Kashafi award), Dr Pirzada Qasim (Shabnam Shakeel award), Akbar Masoom (Shabnam Shakeel award), Anwar Maqsood (fine art and literature), Naiza Khan (fine art), Ustad Naseeruddin Sami (classical music), Ustad Altaf Hussain Tafoo Khan (classical music) and Mumtaz Sabzal (folk music).
The last part of the first day commenced with a performance on the tabla by Haroon Samuel. He was followed by Mumtaz Sabzal (banjo) and Omar Surozi (sarinda). They played four folk tunes all of which were quite well-received.
Ustad Mahfooz Khokar presented raga kaushik dhwani. While his rendition was solid, it bordered on being more pedantic than soulful. The ustad sang the raga with command but did not improvise as much as one would have liked.
Rustam Fateh Ali Khan chose raga maaru bihag and was quite impressive. He managed to bring out the innate romantic longing in the composition and improvised the phrases quite nicely. The fusion item between him and the Caravan Quartet France was also liked by the audience.
The second day of the festival started with Ustad Naseeurddin Saami’s rendition of an Amir Khusrau raga. It was particularly enjoyed by the connoisseurs of the genre. The ustad has proven credentials and is a big name in Pakistani music. But he sometimes does a little extra, a bit more than required, to prove mastery over his genre and compromises on spontaneity. The language of music should never sound Greek to a listener. The ustad’s follow-up adanaraga too suffered from the same dilemma.
Sitar player Ustad Rais Khan and his son Farhan Khan lifted the mood of the concert with their exhilarating combination of a few known ragas, including pilu and des. It suddenly changed the mood of the audience. They heartily applauded the ustad every time he finished a particular pattern, or a run on the sitar, with aplomb. The playfulness of the compositions was worth lending an ear to.
Ustad Fateh Ali Khan, the eminent member of the Patiala Ghrarana, along with Rustam Fateh Ali Khan, in his inimitable style presented raga shab kalian and was heartily applauded. The final item of the festival was Ustad Altaf Hussain Tafoo Khan’s performance on the tabla.
Paintings made by three generations of artists were put up outside the concert hall. Art buffs liked the idea and viewed the exhibits before stepping into the concert hall.