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KARACHI: A three-year journey of collaboration between the National Academy of Performing Arts (Napa) and the Butler School of Music in the University of Texas, Austin, will be celebrated on its culmination in the form of a grand finale on March 20, it emerged on Monday.

Sangat (association), which is the theme of the musical evening, will allow musicians, singers, arrangers, composers and conductors inspired by different musical genres to perform together at Napa. Speaking at a press conference, Napa’s Arshad Mahmood acknowledged the US state department for supporting the several collaborations between Napa and the Butler School of Music. He said they helped Napa to mature and build capacity, especially with regards to its faculty.

He thanked faculty member Nafees Ahmed who he termed “instrumental” in preparing the musical offerings on behalf of Napa. Ahmed, however, was not present at the press conference as he is in Vienna collaborating with different musicians.

Sonia Tamar Seeman, who is associate professor of Ethnomusicology at the Butler School of Music, was present to share her experiences as project director of ‘Sangat’. This is her second visit to Karachi.

Prof Seeman said the performances under the partnership signified an exchange of the heart and the mind. She explained how each time a Pakistani exchange student would return from his stay at UT Austin, they would be held up in corridors with inquiries about them.

“The Butler School of Music was founded in 1914 and in many ways we can empathise with the struggles that Napa is currently experiencing. It takes a lot of work, a lot of time and a whole lot of faith to keep institutions like these going,” she explained.

She praised Napa for adopting a curriculum that distilled varied traditions, such as classical, folk as well as western European for its students.

Li Ping Lo, the US consulate’s cultural affairs officer, said: “We get to see the fruits of the partnership between Napa and the Butler School of Music, which culminates in the ensemble Sangat.”

According to her, “this coming together is also symbolic of the transcendence of cultural and ethnic boundaries.”

She acknowledged the presence of renowned saxophonists, Lee Redfield, who is on his third visit to Karachi and has performed with Napa students and also been part of different collaborations with Pakistani bands such as Raahi.

From Napa, Arsalan Pareyal on the guitar; Intezar Hussain, M. Ahsan Shabbir and Nadir Abbas on vocals; M. Waqas Gulab on the tabla; Stephen Chaman on piano; Kishwar Ali on bass; and Abeir Shan on percussion will perform at the event.

From UT Austin Butler School of Music, Chris Ozley on drums; Eddie Hsu on flute; Julia Dixon on cello; Lee Redflied on saxophone; Laura Jorgensen on vocals; and Prof Sonia on the Turkish clarinet will perform at Sangat.

‘Sangat’ will be held at the Napa in-house theatre on March 20, 8pm-10pm.

Published in Dawn, March 15th, 2016