ISLAMABAD: The first Music Mela Conference 2014 inaugurated at the Pakistan National Council of the Arts (PNCA) amphitheatre on Friday. With people from every age group and all walks of life, the PNCA has rarely seen such crowds.

The walk to the amphitheatre was livened up with food stalls and small seating areas.

In vintage Pakistani style the show started late. In the meantime, Humaira Channa and Mekaal Hassan entertained the audience during the sound check.

While the amphitheatre and the trek were barely walk-friendly, a young woman was carried in on a wheelchair. For the future it would behoove planners to construct ramps for easy access.

The brass band which officially opened the festival was spectacular.

Eesa Khwaja and Mobina Pirzada, the hosts, said while the event was a Mela, it also had an awareness raising and skill building component.

The event was organised by the Foundation for Arts, Culture and Education (FACE) whose mission is to strengthen, empower and educate communities through the universal language of arts.

Zeejah Fazli, the president of FACE, said he was inspired to engage in such activities because of the role of music in his own life and then went on to communicate with the audience through music. Zeejah it seems is an immensely talented guitarist.

Arieb Azhar, one of the directors of FACE, said: “Islamabad has had a burgeoning underground music culture but it is time for us to move on. We are deeply rooted but we mean to go far.”

He added that “musicians need to make their own space because no one else will do it for them.

We need to create an atmosphere where our musicians who contribute to music can live respectable lives.”

Angela Aggelar, from the public affairs division of the US Embassy, was the chief guest.

She acknowledged the role of the Pak-US Alumni Network which supported the festival and the American musicians who will be participating in the later days of the event.

She said she googled quotes on music to discover a few million quotes which makes sense as music has the power to build bridges.

Manizeh Bano, executive director, Sahil, said it was a superb effort to give expression to the role of music in our lives and culture.

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