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LAHORE: A two-day Lahore Music Meet (LMM) starting from Saturday (today) created a lot of buzz and generated immense interest among music aficionados for being the first such platform dedicated solely to all things music.

Zahra Paracha, one of the founders of LLM, says: “The LMM serves as a platform that understands the problems better so we can figure out the solutions. As a musician, this industry does not provide a respectable space for creative minds.”

Hasan Abbas, another founder, adds: “There are a lot of different facets of music that never get covered by our mainstream media and regional music doesn’t get the recognition it deserves. I want to create a platform that will eventually give more agency to these artists so we can hear more of our local music.”

And the fact that the first edition of the festival is taking place in the ‘cultural hub’ of the country -- Lahore -- is telling. In Zahra’s words: “Lahore happens to be at the heart of Pakistan and is one of the central music hubs of the country.”

LMM Programmes Director Sarah N Ahmad elaborates: “Lahore needs to create reasons for its citizens to interact with each other. Music is a fantastic reason. But the LMM is not about one city. We as a team just happen to have more of a footing in Lahore, but the concept behind LMM transcends geography.”

The two-day event includes a diverse pattern of how it’s going to flow. It comprises panel discussions and storytelling sessions on various types and aspects of music with prominent names in the business invited to engage with the audience, workshops through which aspiring musicians and interested individuals can learn from music educationists and mentors.

A unique ‘music mela’ is also a part of the festival for instrument-makers and instructors to display and sell their craft, and last but not the least, live performances during the lunch break and at the end of each day featuring names such as Coke Studio sensations Asrar and Jimmy Khan and the magical Sachal Orchestra.

With panel discussions on classical music in modern age, music videos, metal music, narratives of resistance in music, women in music to workshops on sitar and tabla, music education to storytelling sessions with Faris Shafi, Ali Gul Pir, Hamid Ali Khan, Suraiya Multanikar, Rohail Hayat and Shahida Mini -- all of this in English, Urdu and Punjabi, the young LMM team has tried to incorporate something for everyone, produce an inclusive programme and reaching out to as many people as possible.

And to bolster the reach, they have developed a marketing campaign in both English and Urdu.

“One of the great things about music is that it brings people together regardless of any socially or culturally created divisions.

The topics for our panel discussions, our storytelling sessions and performances are aimed at engaging the interests of all sorts of people from all sorts of backgrounds,” Zahra says.

While the event has generated a lot of buzz, music enthusiasts are not yet sure what to look forward to and if at all LMM will fulfill what it aims at doing: celebrate Pakistani music and create a platform for discussion on problems it faces.

“Visitors should expect to be surrounded by music, whether through performances, album art, discussions about the industry or workshops regarding technical side of this art,” Zahra added.

About their programme, Sarah says: “Our programme and schedule is quite diverse. We made sure to keep the programme as interactive and inclusive as possible, tried our best to include something for everyone.”

LMM does come as a breath of fresh air for the almost-non-existent music industry, but will the event fulfill and deliver what it’s aiming at remains to be seen. But such events are a welcome sign and must be encouraged to revive the local music scene.

Published in Dawn, April 4th, 2015

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