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ENTHUSIASTIC people sing and dance to express their joy while celebrating Sindhi culture day at the Karachi Press Club on Sunday.—White Star
ENTHUSIASTIC people sing and dance to express their joy while celebrating Sindhi culture day at the Karachi Press Club on Sunday.—White Star

KARACHI: A fusion of piano, tabla, guitar, shehnai music became a part of the Sindh culture day celebrations organised by the US consulate general Karachi and the All Pakistan Music Conference at the consul general’s old residence here on Sunday evening.

What began with soft gentle notes played on the piano by visiting American pianist Kimball Gallagher slowly turned into a full explosion of music with all the instruments joining in.

The pianist’s nimble fingers picked up the pace of the tabla and created a new composition with the shehnai playing in the background as if willing them both to carry on.

With the symbolic ajrak draped over his shoulders’ Kimball in his dark suit played several compositions for his audience with a story to tell about each. One composition he played was written by Usman Anis about whom Kimball said he still had to meet but he emailed him the piece which the pianist enjoyed playing.

Through his performances Kimball has blazed a trail across the seven continents, appearing in 28 countries. Before playing another composition, Kimball said it was written by his young student in Afghanistan. “I was invited to teach at a music school in Kabul where I met Elhan.” The boy who was taught how to play the piano by Kimball later wrote a composition for him, which was also played for the audience at the consul general’s old residence.

“I played it in Dubai, too, and a woman there said she really wanted to help so I told her that Elhan didn’t have a piano. She got him one and sent it to him so now my friend has a piano in his home in Kabul,” Kimball said.

The pianist was followed by Ustad Abdullah Khan, Pakistan’s prime shehnai-nawaz with Mehmood Ali on the tabla. They were followed by popular vocalist Saif Samejo and his band ‘The Sketches’, who sang a couple of songs. The first one, ‘Hik yar ko sajda’, was about worshipping the beloved and the other, ‘Aik insaan’, was about being created from the same dust of ground but creating divides through having different religions, castes, etc.

The evening’s climax came with a fusion piece by Kimball and the tabla and shehnai musicians. With the pianists feathery touch on the keys and the tabla-nawaz’s nimble fingers on the drums with the shehnai enthralling the audience.

“It is heartening to see Pakistan and the US working together for the joy of music. Music is international. Let’s continue this good vibe,” said Mark Kendrik, public affairs officer at the US consulate general, at the conclusion of the performances.

Published in Dawn, December 8th, 2014