Schoolchildren enjoy music with French quartet

Published October 31, 2019
KIDS interact with one of the musicians at Rangoonwala Hall on Wednesday.—White Star
KIDS interact with one of the musicians at Rangoonwala Hall on Wednesday.—White Star

KARACHI: In 2017, the All Pakistan Music Conference (APMC) came up with Murki, the Eastern Music Initiation Module (EMIM), to raise cultural awareness among the youth through our musical heritage.

On Wednesday morning, as per the module, the APMC held an event called ‘Explorations in Music’ for the participants in this year’s programme at Rangoonwala Hall. It featured a workshop and recital performed by the French quartet, Stracho Temelkovski, and renowned Pakistani sitar player Ustad Ashraf Sharif Khan.

The quartet from the beginning enlivened the mood of the children, who listened to the musicians with exemplary discipline and attentiveness. It was so nice to hear the band leader and Ustad Ashraf Sharif complementing two different sets of string instruments by creating and following a riff that carried multiple influences –– Middle Eastern, subcontinent, Western etc.

The tune immediately made the audience realise that what they’re listening to was readily identifiable. Even when the accordion (played by Jean Francois Baez) and saxophone (Jean-Charles Richard) started playing their parts in the composition, the feel of ‘affinity’ remained intact. In fact, its effect was heightened when the sitar and the sax engaged in a dialogue of sorts. Both artists were excellent.

‘The saxophone was invented by a Belgian named Adolphe Sax’

After the track, APMC’s Ayla Raza requested the musicians to individually introduce themselves and their instruments to the children. Temelkovski was the first one to speak. The students were amazed to see him play various instruments –– a couple of them simultaneously showing musical ambidexterity. He played quite a few percussions, including vocal percussions (beatbox), which the young ones enjoyed to the hilt.

Jean Francois Baez told them about the accordion. He claimed it’s a popular instrument in France, and is only 170 years old. He is usually accustomed to playing a bigger accordion on which he can perform classics such as Bach. And he did do Bach for a short period and a bit of jazz on the instrument that he had with him on Wednesday.

Jean-Charles Richard said the saxophone was invented by a Belgian named Adolphe Sax, and the one that he was carrying was not as big in size as other pieces of the sax family. He played three items for the kids, including a small fragment from Charlie Parker’s ‘Confirmation’.

Ashraf Sharif Khan said the sitar is a 700-year-old instrument developed by Hazrat Amir Khusrau.

He also talked about the material that’s used in the making of a sitar and demonstrated how modern-day playing of it has become closer to the vocal notes.

The students were, then, divided into groups to go to four stations where each musician was present to further inform them about their instruments in particular and music in general.

The event will continue on Thursday. The educational institutions whose students are taking part in the programme are: PECHS Girls School, Happy Home School, Dawood Public School, Karachi High School, Civilisations School and CAS.

Published in Dawn, October 31st, 2019

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