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When sagar veena enthralls and sarangis don’t

October 08, 2012

Noor Zehra Kazim accompanied by Shaukat Raza [tabla] performed raga jaijai wanti on the unique instrument sagar veena.–Photo by White StarKARACHI: Music lovers witnessed some fine performances on the first day of the Tehzeeb Festival of classical music at a local hotel on Saturday, but had there been shorter, if not fewer, interruptions the evening could have been a memorable one. The long speeches right in the middle of the programme when it was about to gain the requisite momentum impeded its smooth progression.

The show started off with the young sitar player Shahroze Husain’s rendition of raga misra tilang accompanied by Ustad Bashir Khan [tabla]. The raga is usually played in a lighter vein. The young musician did a decent job. He definitely needs time to flourish and should befriend the instrument he plays instead of handling it dutifully.

The host of the show, actress Sadia Imam, appeared on the stage after the first act and apologised for her late arrival. She looked a little flustered as was evident from her Urdu “baqaeda aghaz shuro kerte hain” [let’s officially begin the beginning].

The evening got its impetus when Noor Zehra Kazim accompanied by Shaukat Raza [tabla] performed raga jaijai wanti on the unique instrument sagar veena. Despite the fact that the instrument was still being developed, as she told the audience, her performance enthralled everyone. She kept the purity of the raga intact and was particularly impressive with the ascending movement. She was able to make the softer notes sound clearly audible, which was a delight to hear.

Indian Artist Kamal Sabri performs during the Tahzeeb Festival.–Photo by APP

After that a sarangi ensemble was presented, led by Indian sarangi nawaz Kamal Sabri. The organisers claimed that it was for the first time that six [Kamal Sabri, Zohaib Hassan, Akhtar Husain, Mazhar Umrao Bundoo Khan, Temur Khan and Gul Mohammad] sarangi players [one from India and the rest from Pakistan] were playing together.

The musicians played raga maaru bihag. While the idea was praiseworthy, one thought that its execution left quite a bit to be desired. The half a dozen sarangis sounded good individually but collectively they created a jarring effect primarily because there was less experimentation and more of following a certain pattern.

However, when Kamal Sabri played the Rajasthani folk number maand and then his own composition called ‘Dance of the Desert’, it lifted the crowd’s spirits and achieved the desired results. This was followed by speeches by Sharif Awan, Uxi Mufti, Javed Jabbar, and a Polish dignitary. Earlier, writer Anwar Maqsood had also spoken.

Kamal Sabri performs with a fellow musician during the Tahzeeb Festival.–Photo by APP

Then came eminent theatre person Sheema Kermani with her troupe. They danced to some of the compositions in Indus Raag [a 12CD project that had been launched] and to a couple of other tunes. Their act was thoroughly enjoyed by the audience and was received with a generous round of applause.

The final item of the evening was Ustad Nasiruddin Saami’s rendition of raga purbi. As expected, the ustad gave an impressive performance.