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Sounds from the north echo in Islamabad

March 18, 2013

ISLAMABAD, March 17: At the National Art Gallery, artists from Afghanistan, Chitral, Hunza and Peshawar offered Islamabad the chance to hear the mystical music traditions of their regions.

Arranged by the Pakistan National Council of the Arts (PNCA), the Aga Khan Cultural Service and the French embassy, the two-hour concert opened with a performance by Ustad Ali Gohar and his team of drummers.

Later, D.W. Baig from Shimshal and Fazalur Rehman from Gojal in Hunza shifted gears, using rubab, acoustic guitar and small drums for their folk songs.

The rubab was a particularly popular instrument for the evening; Ustad Ghulam Hussain also used his to powerful effect, delivering an astonishing solo performance before being joined by Ustad Faqeer Hussain on the tabla.

The combination of the two reflected a perfect balance of strings and percussion, with the two artists complementing each other’s work.

Eventually, the singer Zarsanga, a Pride of Performance recipient, joined them for a brief collaboration that was far more polished than the few hours of practice they had had together would suggest.

“There was real beauty in her singing,” said a member of the audience, Farzana Agha.

Two performers from Chitral, Shabab Mansur and Aftab Alam followed that act, but the evening ended with Mehr Angaiz, Amber and Gulbaz Khan, who sang Sufi poetry in Persian, Urdu and Burushaski languages.

This trio had been put together specifically by the organisers of the event.

The drummers, instrumentalists and singers gave the audience a chance to hear music and stories of people who may live far away, but whose themes were instantly relatable. — Jamal Shahid