Young classical singers look for opportunities

Published: October 14, 2010

Classical music needs a new lease of life and musicians say arts councils can help pave the way. PHOTO: AFP

LAHORE: Nadeem Riaz is the first gold medallist with a Master of Arts degree in music from Punjab University. Two years have passed since he graduated but he still hasn’t been acknowledged for his talent. He has performed at several private events but never at arts councils.

Riaz is not the only classical singer looking for an opportunity. “Arts councils and cultural bodies should play a role in promoting classical singers. Pop stars get a lot of sponsors for their shows but very few people dare to arrange classical music shows. I have had the opportunity to perform but it was only because of my talent. Winning a gold medal didn’t get me anywhere,” he says.

Riaz believes that arts councils can do a lot if they want to. “All they have to do is to find sponsors and organise musical shows on regular basis. They have their halls. They even have funds but they still aren’t inclined to give a chance to new classical singers. In India  the situation is different. There are a lot of entertainment channels and platforms where young classical singers are given an opportunity to show their talent and get recognition,” he said.

“Punjab Arts Council (PAC) has eight regional art councils attached to it but it doesn’t organise programmes for regional and classical singers on regular basis. Holding a musical night once in six months is not enough. Pakistan Television and Radio Pakistan have also wrapped up their classical music programmes. Recordings for such programmes have not been held at Radio Pakistan since the last eight months,” he added.

Singer Sunny Ahmad also believes that young classical singers are not given many chances. He said that classical music shows should be organised regularly to utilise the talent of young classical singers.

Another young singer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, held the families of classical singers responsible for this trend, “Noted classical families are also responsible for the lack of opportunities for the young singers. These families don’t let an ‘outsider’ grow and make a mark in classical singing.  Most classical singers garner fame when some elderly singer of their family passes away”.

On the other hand, Pride of Performance award recipient Ustad Badaruzzaman, believes that musical families have promoted classical music throughout the subcontinent. He said that arts council should play their role by organising musical nights for young singers. “Classical music is all about practice. The more you sing, the better you are,” he said.

The executive director of PAC said that the organisation held several shows to promote classical singing, and that the PAC could just provide a platform.

Lahore Arts Council (LAC) Deputy Director Programmes said that LAC recently organised a workshop to create understanding and basic know-how of classical music among people. He believes that the council is doing what it can to promote the neglected genre.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 15th, 2010.

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