KARACHI: The 16th All Pakistan Music Conference ended on a high on Sunday with some brilliant vocals and instrumental performances that is a testament to the success of the conference that caters to and satiates classical music lovers in the city.
Ustad Ashraf Sharif’s performance on the sitar was possibly the defining moment of the evening. Accompanied by Ustad Shabaz Hussain, every note played in the sangat was a delight to witness. His first performance was at the age of 10, and since then he has played nationally and internationally and has been awarded accolades for his beautiful performances.
Music is a perfect expression of one’s feelings, he believes, and his performance conveyed his honesty and dedication towards the instrument. Ustad Ashraf has performed at major music events in India, Pakistan, Europe and the USA and has even been awarded the Pride of Performance Award.
Wali Fateh Ali from Afghanistan was another exceptional performer of the evening. At the age of seven, he was first taught by Sayed Muhibullah Hashimi, a well-known musician of Afghanistan; Wali Fateh Ali was also later trained by Ustad Fateh Ali Khan sahib of the Patiala gharana. Though it took him a while to settle in with his performance, he wowed the audience when he did. One looks forward to him performing again next time.
APMC director Ayla Raza spoke about the 16 years of work and the evolution of the conference which started on a small scale and has transformed into a much-anticipated yearly event.
Teaching modules in schools
“We have come a long way and since 2015 there has been a slight change in the outlook of APMC as we are now looking at longer-term projects. One such is the introduction of teaching modules on Eastern music in schools since the past two years,” she said.
The five-session course on Eastern music is being conducted in schools, and audio and video recordings, along with activities and live performances are being used to educate and initiate younger audiences so they can grow up to appreciate classical music performed at platforms such as the APMC.
“There is a great disconnect because over the years we have lost the worth of our own things. Class-based and language-based issues have made things worse. This is why it is important for our younger audience to be empowered and taught about local content in the field of music.”
APMC also works for advocacy of artist welfare and preservation of culture in the country, she explained.
“This festival over the past two to three years [has] had a huge influx of younger performers and very promising ones who are making a mark. When we started we had mostly stalwarts performing but now we find these young artists who are coming well and we have managed to address the generation gap. We are also slowly witnessing the presence of younger people in the audience which is a welcome change,” added Ms Raza.
The Bhendi Bazaar tradition was represented by Ustad Syed Hussain; Ibad Ali who had wowed the audience on the opening day gave another stunning performance on the clarinet.
Other performers included Gul Mohammad, Saeed Hussain and Ustad Fateh Ali Khan.
Published in Dawn, March 12th, 2019