KARACHI, May 7: The second and final day of sitar festival organised by Tahzeeb Foundation ended with a solid performance by Ashraf Sharif Khan, who had flown in from Germany to participate in the event, at the Arts Council on Friday.

The first session of the evening was presided over by Ustad Imdad Husain, whose grandson Turab Ali kicked off the proceedings by playing raag jhinjhoti . It was heartening to see the young Turab Ali perform, as with the 14-year-old Shehroz Husain (who did his bit on Thursday), he represents the bright future of sitar players in Pakistan. In contrast to Shehroz's languid style, some of his runs on the instrument were fluid and his management of the neck of the sitar was also decent. He was accompanied on stage by Bashir Khan (tabla), who reciprocated the young instrumentalist's effort with equal flair.

After that Beena Raza from Lahore came and played raag bihag . She looked a little stiff in the beginning, a touch of nervousness was visible, and as her stint progressed, she gradually found her comfort zone.

However, her effort was a tad amateurish, which was understandable since Beena herself said that she's short of the kind of riyaz that's required to acquire mastery over such a difficult instrument.

It didn't take much for the concert to rejuvenate soon though. Suhel Khan (from India) and Huzoor Hasnain Khan (both sons of Ustad Rais Khan) appeared and presented raag aiman. Suhel is an animated character. With sleeves rolled up, he used the chalan of the raag with reasonable facility. His exploration of the sharp note was particularly good. Suhel's passionate rendition gelled with his lively body language. He followed it up by singing the famous thumri (two variations, in fact) Aan milo sajna , which was also received well.

Then Sajid Husain with his son Shehroz Husain came on stage. He said since aiman and bihag had been performed, he'd do something similar to them. His act stood out mainly because of his poise and balance, and was especially appreciated by the maestros present in the hall.

The second session of the evening, presided over by Ustad Rais Khan, proved an auditory treat for the younger audience when renowned guitarist Aamir Zaki joined sitarist Farhan Khan (Rais Khan's son) to indulge in fusion music. Accompanied by bassist Khalid Khan and drummer Wahid, they lit up the concert with a couple of zesty experimental numbers. Aamir Zaki was in his element, playing delectable riffs and runs on the guitar, a touch of blues here and a dash of jazz there, while Farhan tried to match him note for note with success. The unsung hero of the act was Wahid, whose thumping roll of the drums and pounding sound of the bass drum augmented the overall feel of the gig.

The last sitar player of the festival was Ashraf Sharif Khan, the son of Sharif Khan Poonchwale, accompanied by tabla nawaz Shahbaz Husain from the United Kingdom. Ashraf Sharif played raag darbari . He gave a sound performance and even a rather prolonged alap made the audience listen to him with rapt attention. During that period he intermittently flicked his right hand to emphasise the suspension of the notes. He was totally immersed in his art, moving into the vilambit (slow) and drut (fast) modes with effortless ease.

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