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Musical confluence of east and west

September 05, 2012

Holly Jenkins, Emily Holder and Peter Myers of Cultures in Harmony performing with students of Napa’s music department.–Photo by White Star

KARACHI: Members of the US-based band Cultures in Harmony and faculty and students of the National Academy of Performing Arts’ music department played delightful compositions, both notated and improvised, at a concert organised by the academy’s Society for Music and Repertory Theatre at the Pakistan Institute of International Affairs auditorium on Tuesday evening.

Music lovers rarely get to listen to such a wonderful blend of soulful eastern melodies and mellifluous western tunes.

The gig kicked off with an interesting tabla duet featuring Ustad Bashir Khan and Ustad Omar Qureshi. It was more of an in-tandem performance than duet, because both musicians did their bit one after the other. It was the right beginning to the event as it set the tempo for the rest of the show.

Noted flautist Ustad Salamat Hussain accompanied by Ustad Bashir Khan (tabla) then presented raga roopavati. The ustad masterfully made the most of the inherent sadness of the flute taking the tune to a befitting climax.

Next up was time for some western classical music. Holly Jenkins of Cultures in Harmony came on stage and played a solo piece on the violin by a French composer. The marked aspect of her performance was that she made the notes sound visible, crystal clear at that. The different moods in the compositions were nicely captured.

After that Peter Myers (cello) joined Holly Jenkins and played a duo piece by Hungarian composer Zoltan Kodaly. It was a beautiful composition having shades of folk tunes and classical elements. Both Jenkins and Myers did justice to the subtle parts of the piece of music.

Then it was violinist Emily Holden’s turn to join her group. She announced the next bit was concerto for two violins by Bach. She said usually it’s played with two violins and orchestra, but since orchestra wasn’t there Peter Myers on his cello had big shoes to fill.

The three movements in the piece were played with dexterity. It was a treat listening to the flowing, cascading first and second movements in particular.

The experimental part of the show came next. Napa students appeared on stage and did an item titled ‘Journey of Mode’ with the three American musicians. It was a kind of a jugulbandi in which a variety of ragas were performed.

It came as a pleasant surprise when the cello followed the alaap crooned out by singer Nadir Abbas. Similarly when the violins tried to follow the sargam, it produced a lovely sound.

The last two items on the list were singer Intezar Husain and sitar player Nafees Ahmed’s performance with Cultures in Harmony.