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From Berlin to Lahore, music all the way

March 27, 2013

Christoph Reuter on the keyboard and Ashraf Sharif on the sitar.- Photo by White Star

KARACHI: Call it fusion, experimentation or innovation, the fact of the matter is: it was a memorable evening of music. A group known as Berlin to Lahore gave an impressive performance at a concert organised by the Goethe Institut Karachi and Tezheeb Foundation at a hotel on Tuesday.

The band was formed last year when German pianist Christoph Reuter and sitar player Ashraf Sharif Khan (who is from Lahore and now lives in Germany) ran into each other at a festival and came up with the idea of collaborative music. They roped in percussionist Thomas Rudiger and as a result the group is now touring Pakistan where it will perform in, apart from Karachi, Islamabad and Lahore.

The concert kicked off with a little piece by Bach played by Christoph Reuter on the piano. It was a kind of prelude to the gig. Once the piece was over the band, accompanied by Abdul Karim on the dholak, got into the groove and gave the audience a hint as to what was in store for the evening. Ashraf Sharif set in motion a delightful alaap and once the percussionist Rudiger and Reuter on the keyboard linked up with the sitar, it created a pleasantly funky sound. The tempo was slowed in the middle of the composition to allow the sitar take centre stage, and once Ashraf Sharif did his bit the percussionist and the pianist indulged in a bit of musical dialogue.

The second number was performed with a 10-beat cycle. Reuter used the sound of the bass on the keyboard making the beat more pronounced. The quickness of the rhythm encouraged the sitar player to show his skills as he made the smaller notes resonate proportionate to the pace of the tune. The audience thoroughly enjoyed the piece, especially when Reuter egged on Rudiger and Abdul Karim to go solo.

This was followed by a tune called ‘Beginning of Love’. As can be gauged by the title, the composition started gently, having an almost psychedelic feel to it. It changed the ambiance of the concert.

Then the band came up with a rather playful track with a strong bass pattern. It gave off a jamming session vibe, in a professional way.

After that Reuter introduced a number which he called ‘July in Berlin’. Unfortunately it got off on the wrong foot. But once the musicians got it right, it proved a delight to lend ears to. The highlight of the tune was the thumping sound of the percussions as well as Reuter’s brilliant switch from the keyboard to the piano. Certain sharp notes on the piano presented the visual side to the ‘July in Berlin’ theme.

Next up was a G. Friedrich Handel’s composition called ‘Sarabande’ played by Christoph Reuter and Ashraf Sharif. Reuter introduced the track terming it slow, preparing the audience for its measured movement. The audience enjoyed that too.

A few more compositions followed, including one titled ‘New Tune’, making the concert a worthwhile experience for all those who attended it.