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Music Mela — a feast for music lovers

Updated April 18, 2015

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ISLAMABAD: The manicured green lawns of the National Art Gallery were the venue for the three-day Second Annual Music Mela that started on Friday night. The event is being organised by the US embassy in collaboration with the Foundation for Arts, Culture and Education (FACE).

The show opened with a colourful mixture of famous folk artists and underground bands. The audience sang along with Punjabi folk dastaan singer Fazal Jutt, when he sang ‘Heer Ranjha’ and ‘Balay Balay’, and danced to the overwhelming beats of the dhol. The rest of the lineup included Seraiki folk artist Krishan Laal Bheel, Balochi folk performer Sachu Khan and Pashto singer Niaz Khan.

This year Polish ethnic artist Maria Pomianowska, American contemporary rock musician Grace McLean and country rock band Mary McBride are participating in the Mela and collaborating with local musicians to create fusion tunes.

“The idea is to encourage live music, provide platform to talented musicians, and make the show bigger next year and the years to follow,” said Project Coordinator, FACE, Mehnaz Perveen explaining how this year a day-long Movie Festival had been included to promote films. On the last day of the Mela, films like ‘Without Shepherds’ and ‘Life’s Worth Living’ will be screened.

“Music has a special power to overcome barriers. This event builds on the tremendous success of last year’s Music Mela and a year of cultural events arranged by the US embassy and its partners here and the United States,” said the US Ambassador Richard Olson who opened the Annual Music Mela.

“We love this show. They have a melt of all music genres from folk to popular rock music and fusion and excellent food,” said Saiban Khaliq, who particularly liked folk performances.

Singer and guitar player Iman Shahid had come to hear one of her favourite musicians - blues musician Shahmoon Ismail.

Clockwise from top left: Musician Shahmoon Ismail plays his guitar, a performer displays a fire trick and Krishan Laal Bheel presents a folk song on the first day of the Annual Music Mela on Friday. — Photos by Tanveer Shahzad
Clockwise from top left: Musician Shahmoon Ismail plays his guitar, a performer displays a fire trick and Krishan Laal Bheel presents a folk song on the first day of the Annual Music Mela on Friday. — Photos by Tanveer Shahzad

“It’s a great crowd and the music is so interesting,” said Iman Shahid.

It always a pleasure singing tales of ‘Sohni Mahiwaal’ and ‘Mirza Sahibaan’ to a receptive audience, said Punjabi folk vocalist Fazal Jutt.

“Islamabad is a beautiful venue to perform. We love the response from the crowd that appreciates local traditions and treasures folk stories,” said Fazal Jutt.

In addition to live performances, the festival will feature workshops and master classes that address the needs of Pakistani music industry. The programme also includes presentations from successful music initiatives such as the National Academy of Performing Arts and Nescafe Basement.

Friday night’s headlining performer was Hadiqa Kiani. On Saturday and Sunday nights, Sanam Marvi, Faiz Ali Qawwal, Ustad Shafqat Ali Khan and Karachi-based rock band ‘Coven’ will be among the performers.

Published in Dawn, April 18th, 2015

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