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Multiethnic melodies charm music lovers

January 18, 2013

KARACHI, Jan 18: It was an evening of lilting melodies and thumping beats as music buffs enjoyed a delightful couple of hours of fusion music organised by Tehzeeb Foundation, Alliance Francaise and the Goethe Institut Karachi to mark the 50th anniversary of the treaty of friendship (Elysee) between France and Germany at the Alliance Francaise Karachi on Friday.The show kicked off with the multi-talented French musician Abaji’s performance. He is no stranger to Pakistani audiences. He in his trademark style appeared on stage, put an anklet on his thigh and picked up a clarinet. He tapped his feet to create rhythm and played a composition which had an element of mirth in it. He complemented the sound of the instrument with his loud chants and tried to engage the audience in his effort and succeeded to a reasonable degree.

Abaji’s next act was with an instrument called the oud. This time he produced the beat while drumming the body of the instrument with his hands and by tying the anklets to his feet. He turned out a short and sweet tune. After that he chose to play the bouzouki and told the audience that it represented him best because he was born in Lebanon but was not Lebanese, his parents were born in Turkey but were not Turkish. His performance on the bouzouki was masterful as he ran his fingers on its neck with great alacrity without compromising on the melody. His last two items were on a small violin and a Turkish instrument called the saz.

Abaji then invited German musician Mehmet Ergin on stage for a solo stint. Ergin introduced himself to the audience saying his father was Turkish and his mother was half Czech and half Hungarian. He started with a composition titled Sema which he said was the Turkish word for canopy. The melody was mellifluous and Ergin quite nicely mixed up the open strings with quick chord progressions. All of it sounded like soft, soothing travel music.

Ergin’s next performance was called The Wishing Tree. It was inspired by a story of a man who walks a fair distance and then rests up under a tree. He wonders what kind of a tree it could be and thinks about grapes and the tree grows grapes; he thinks about roses and the tree grows roses. It leads him to believe that perhaps he’s dreaming and the tree vanishes. The composition captured the whole idea effectively as the audience could see that the musician was painting the whole scene with the help of his instrument. Ergin’s last solo act was about his remembrance of Turkey. The tune had a tender ‘down-memory-lane’ feel to it.

What followed was the first taste of fusion of the evening. Abaji joined Ergin and played a tune (which Abaji said was composed by him and his mother) called The Child is Gone. Abaji played the bouzouki and both musicians enlivened the atmosphere with their rendition.

The last item of the event was an improvisational performance in which Ustad Naseeruddin Saami and tabla nawaz Ustad Bashir Khan joined Abaji and Ergin to play the famous classical number Khabaram Raseeda Imshab. It gained momentum with Ustad Saami’s haunting voice, followed by Abaji’s oud and Engrin’s guitar and Bashir Khan’s brilliant tabla beats.