In focus: Building bridges

Published November 29, 2015
Nafees Ahmed on sitar and Ustad Bashir Khan on tabla
Nafees Ahmed on sitar and Ustad Bashir Khan on tabla

As the live music played on stage, a melodic, resonant voice could be heard accompanying it. Where was the singer? The audience looked around and to their delight and surprise saw the Indonesian Consul-General in Karachi, Rosalis Adenan walking down the auditorium aisle singing robustly. The tone was thus set for the Indonesian cultural night in collaboration with the National Academy of Performing Arts (NAPA).

The musicians, singer Fonni and two young female dancers were specially flown in from Indonesia for the programme. Fonni with her gravelly, mature voice belted out Indonesian songs on a western tune, all the while engaging the crowd by explaining the meaning of the sentiments expressed in the songs. Her enthusiasm was quite catchy and the accompanying pianist, drummer and guitar player responded likewise.

The dancers’ lithe, somewhat acrobatic movements resembled yoga postures. At times their supple movements gave the impression that there was no limit to their flexibility. Later on, it was learnt that this particular troupe is quite popular in their home country and that they perform at presidential state programmes quite regularly.


When it comes to celebrating culture, the Indonesians do it best


The NAPA students from the music department performed a raga song composed by Ustad Mehboob Ashraf and the milli naghma by Mehdi Hasan, Yeh Watan Tumhara hai.

Flute player extraordinaire Ustad Salamat Hussain played a lilting and lively tune, that of the Sindhi folk song Morh tou tillay rana, accompanied by another great Ustad Bashir Khan on tabla. Both outstanding musicians belong to a breed that is fast dying out, not getting the accolades that they truly deserve.

The fusion music between Nafees Ahmad on sitar and the Indonesian musicians was the highlight of the evening. The blending of traditional instruments was nothing short of remarkable, especially since they had rehearsed only twice before. The fusion became a medley when Fonni joined in along with the dancers and further livened up the act.

Published in Dawn, Sunday Magazine, November 29th, 2015

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