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Morning raga in evening

March 11, 2019

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Azaz Sohail performs at the APMC on Saturday evening.—Fahim Siddiqi / White Star
Azaz Sohail performs at the APMC on Saturday evening.—Fahim Siddiqi / White Star

KARACHI: The second day of the 16th All Pakistan Music Conference (APMC) at the Indus Valley School was pretty special in terms of the quality of performances. All the performers brought their A-game to the gig. Well, nearly all.

It all began with Azaz Sohail’s presentation of raga madhuvanti. Bearing in mind that it was the first piece of the evening and there weren’t enough people in the arena, one has to give credit to the vocalist for grabbing the audience’s undivided attention. They listened to him with a great deal of eagerness because his performance was impressive, especially in the latter part of his stint when he used a great deal of murkiyan. If he could be a little more creative with his modulations, his future is nothing short of bright.

What followed was an engaging sitar recital by Shahid Ali. He presented raga khamaj. It was quite a sight seeing a sitar player playing the instrument with a still head. Even when he went for quick, run-on notes, the head remained unmoved. Totally unfazed by music lovers’ reaction to his piece, he did not miss a single note. What’s even more noteworthy is the fact that when he touched the relatively quieter or softer notes, the momentum was never lost.

Shahid Ali’s presentation of raga khamaj was quite a sight as he played sitar with a still head

Next up was Intizar Husain who sang raga marva. Husain has been teaching music at the National Academy of Performing Arts for a few years. He is a formidable vocalist. It was no surprise, then, that he gave a decent performance. But it would be terribly unjust if one didn’t mention the brilliant musicians that accompanied him on stage. Akhtar Husain on harmonium (he is a master artist who knows the finer points of classical music like the back of his hand), Gul on sarangi (he is Akhtar Husain’s son and an amazing young talent) and the young tabla player, Waqas Gulab.

The penultimate act of the evening was Farhan Raees on sitar. He chose raga parmeshwari. Farhan is the son of the legendary Ustad Raees Khan, and a fine instrumentalist in his own right. He told the audience that parmeshwari is a morning raga, but he was presenting it in the evening because not many concerts take place in the daytime. Come to think of it, he’s right. There aren’t many musical programmes that happen in the morning or afternoon. This made the rendition of the raga at around 9.30pm all the more interesting.

The last artist on the list for Saturday was Ustad Mubarak Ali Khan.

Published in Dawn, March 11th, 2019