TURAB Ali performs during the opening session of the APMC.—Fahim Siddiqi/White Star
TURAB Ali performs during the opening session of the APMC.—Fahim Siddiqi/White Star

KARACHI: The annual All Pakistan Music Conference (APMC) kicked off on the conference’s YouTube channel with a delightful rendition of raga Megh by young sitar player Turab Ali on Wednesday night. The theme of this year’s edition, 2021, is ‘Abb Ke Saavan’ (This rainy season).

The title of the event is understandable and is replete with possibilities. The monsoons are around the corner. Already grey clouds have begun to hover over the Karachi skyline. This makes Ali’s choice of raga Megh (meaning cloud) apt.

The sitar player has oodles of talent, make no mistake. Over the years his playing has improved by leaps and bounds. This also implies that his comprehension of the art of classical music has increased, which was evident on Wednesday night as the composition that he played demanded the kind of softness that’s associated with yearning for something precious. In this context, it is the rain.

But it can have other connotations as well — such as waiting for the beloved in an atmosphere that is mellow and benevolent. Ali played the notes with soft hands, each sur represented nicely with the result that the tune sounded like an intelligently crafted and therefore well-told tale.

The artist belongs to the Delhi gharana of music. As per his bio provided by the organisers, he was taught by his grandfather the late Ustad Imdad Husain Khan; and that he has “imbibed the gaeki-ang of his forefathers”. For the uninitiated, this means the style of sitar playing which is closer to the vocal mode. It might be right. However, it would not be unsafe to claim that the young musician has now developed more than a reasonable command over his art that he can be called ‘versatile’. His performance especially in the jod part of the composition was top-notch.

While praising Ali, one must not forget the super-talented tabla player Irfan Haider who accompanied him during the performance. He was equally, if not more, impressive.

Published in Dawn, June 18th, 2021

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