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Pashto folk singer Gul Meena Bibi performs at the music concert. — Dawn
Pashto folk singer Gul Meena Bibi performs at the music concert. — Dawn

PESHAWAR: Noted Pashto folk singers refreshed memories of the audience by singing classic songs at a musical concert here late on Tuesday evening.

The provincial culture directorate conducted the event titled ‘Saz Au Awaz’ at its newly-built hall. Prof Abaseen Yousafzai chaired the function. A select-gathering attended the concert. Ajmal Khan, director culture, and Tariq Khan, secretary culture, were also among the participants.

Living music maestro Ahmad Gul Ustad, Qamru Jan, Gul Meena Bibi, Mullah Abdul Wahab, Almas Khalil and Irfan Kamal performed at the event while Ustad Zainullah and Shaukat Panial played fine tunes on Chitrali sitar and Nalkuphone (pipe) respectively.

The senior artists also briefly talked about their past and present situation. They sang popular Pashto folk songs and received a thunderous applause from the participants. Shahkirzeb directed the music with fine notes while Ziyad Khan monitored composition of the orchestra.

Prof Abaseen Yousafzai said on the occasion that traditional music cast a magic spell on the listeners due to its natural flavour. He said that folk singers had been born with fine sensibilities and their velvety voices remained unchanged, fresh and impressive.

Ahmad Gul Ustad on the occasion complained that his colleagues had been allegedly bullied by policemen on checkpoints after coming late night from performing. He asked the police authorities to take notice of mistreatment with musicians.

“Sometime, I receive complaints from my community members of misbehaviour with them by policemen performing duty at various checkpoints in and around Peshawar city. Recently such an incident was reported in the local press from district Mardan. I hope it is not repeated,” said Mr Gul.

Ms Jan also poured out her heart and said that old artists were not given due respect by the people. She said that artists needed encouragement and appreciation. She said that provincial government had taken steps to improve condition of local singers and performers. “We should keep alive our old music, which is a symbol of our cultural identity,” she added.

Bakhtiar Khattak, who moderated the event, said that provincial culture directorate had planned to revive live Pashto music by organising such functions.

He said that at every event four senior folk singers would be invited to perform live and also at least two instrumentalists would be given chance to play those traditional musical instruments.

“In this way old Pashto music could be safeguarded to some extent. Also senior folk singers would revisit their past and would bring back fond memories to us,” said Mr Khattak.

Shaukat Panial, a resident of Dera Ismail Khan, played a new pipe musical instrument called ‘Nalkuphone’ while Zainullah Ustad played beautiful Pashto tunes on famous Chitrali sitar.

He claimed that Nalkupone had been invented by him a few years ago. He said it was like Druza, an instrument made from dry straws of wheat.

Ajmal Khan said on the occasion that issues with artists would be resolved on priority basis and more such opportunities would be created to encourage young artists and bring back old performers so that traditional orchestra and folk poetry could be both saved.

The live performances continued for quite some time and took the audience into past only to enjoy oldies.

Published in Dawn, March 30th, 2017