Liaquat Humayoon and Irfan Haider perform at the event.­—White Star
Liaquat Humayoon and Irfan Haider perform at the event.­—White Star

KARACHI: With more than 70 baithaks and around 500 performers, the All Pakistan Music Conference has managed to prove the naysayers wrong and only grown over the last 14 years.

The turnout on the final day of APMC’s 15th Annual Music Festival held at the Frere Garden on Sunday was a befitting tribute by new upcoming performers as well as veterans.

Harnessing the beautiful ambience and vibe of the Frere Gardens, the APMC attracted a large crowd which kept swelling as the evening turned into night.

Liaquat Humayoon’s performance on the rubab deserves a worthy mention. A shaagird of Ustad Humayun Sakhi and Ustad Arshad Khokar, the calm demeanour he depicted was an extension of the control and mastery he depicted over the instrument.

Karam Abbas Khan, a vocal artist of the Gwalior gharana, was also one of the performers of the night. The son of Ustad Ahmed Ali Khan under whose tutelage he mastered the art of classical music, Karam Abbas was to perform alongside his brother Waseem Abbas who however, was unable to perform due to illness.

So he then decided to perform alongside his young shaagird, his son Ahmed Ali Khan who had practised for just a week and the duo pushed the boundaries in their performance.

The 15th Annual Music Festival brought many newcomers to the stage and Ayla Raza, director of the APMC, expressed her delight at this development.

“Apart from Ahmed Ali Khan, other newcomers included vocalists Ahsan Ali from Karachi and Ahmed Raza from Faisalabad. This is a positive sign as it is showing the development of a second tier of classical music artists and we look forward to them performing in the future.”

Raza also spoke about how the APMC is currently in the process of reviving classical music in the country and the journey is far from over.

“The heartening and positive sign we saw this time at the festival was the presence of a younger audience. Not only are we attracting a younger audience, but we are also seeing a revival in the artist line-up which had stagnated in the past few years.”

Other performers of the night were Ustad Shahbaz Hussain on the tabla, vocalist Akbar Ali, and Ustad Ashraf Sharif Khan on the sitar.

Ustad Shahbaz Hussain, a versatile tabla player, merges the traditions of two distinct and powerful gharanas —the Delhi Gharana as well as the Punjab Gharana. His initial training was under his father Ustad Mumtaz Hussain; eventually he studied with tabla legends Ustad Faiyaz Khan from the Delhi Gharana, and the late Ustad Shaukat Hussain Khan from the Punjab Gharana.

At his first solo performance he played the taal rupak.

Accompanists during the festival were Ustad Bashir Khan, Ustad Shahbaz Hussain, Irfan Haider, and Anil Ghawri on the tabla. On the harmonium were Ustad Idrees Hussain, Akhtar Hussain, and Mian Nazar Hussain; the sarangi was played by Gul Mohammad, and Wajid Ali was on the tanpura.

Published in Dawn, March 13th, 2018