Italy’s latest export to Pakistan

Napa hosts special performance of celebrated clarinet and piano players from Italy

Photo Athar Khan/Ali Raj December 07, 2015
The stars of the evening were Italian maestros Massimo Spada and Claudio Cavallaro. PHOTOS: ATHAR KHAN/EXPRESS

KARACHI: The National Academy of Performing Arts’ (NAPA) in-house theatre in Karachi came back to life on Sunday with a musical evening put together in collaboration with the Consul General of Italy. The stars of the evening were Italian maestros Massimo Spada and Claudio Cavallaro who had flown in to Pakistan for the first time ever, to play live to an audience that has grown accustomed to the phenomenon called fusion music.

Titled ‘Music Without Borders’, the evening interestingly had little to do with this prevalent [con]fusion. The organisers refrained from throwing both Western and Eastern classical music in the same cauldron. The set list comprised performances of both familiar and unfamiliar faces from the Napa fraternity followed by an elaborate performance of the guest musicians.

The entire hall, which was dominated by foreign dignitaries and Napa’s regular patrons, surrendered itself to silence the very moment Ustad Bashir Khan and Ustad Salamat Hussain adjusted the tanpura and kicked the show off with a flute and tabla dogfight which was an absolute delight. Both members of the academy’s faculty set the tone for the evening which only improved from this vantage point.

When Othello and Macbeth didn’t get along

This show of prowess was followed by Nafees Ahmed’s skillful playing of the sitar, accompanied by sargam saying of Napa students. Raag Gorakh Kalyan carried the day, with budding pupils of the institution following the footsteps of their teachers on the stage. Some of the rather nervous students in the choir were constantly facing their teachers as the latter played the harmonium and keyboard, a practice that was explained in line with the instructional aspect of the academy’s environment.

Spada and Cavallaro introduced the attendees to the works of some of Italy’s premier classical musicians. The coordination between both the performers was convincing and their command over variations in volume was on point. Bar a moment or two of abrupt pauses, the playing was seamless and enriching for the listeners. Cavallaro admitted his lack of fluency with English as he explained the backstory of the jazz piece with which the two performers ended their session.

Napa faculty member Umar Jameel, who played the host for the evening, clarified to the rather bemused foreigners in the audience why it is a local custom to belt out applause in the middle of a performance even if it interrupts the flow of the playing.

When the enslaved is not servile

The show culminated in perhaps the most anticipated piece from the cue list; the only instrumental that a majority of the attendees had some idea of ­— Nino Rota’s celebrated Godfather theme titled Speak Softly Love. This time Cavallaro was accompanied by several Napa students playing a variety of instruments. A visually-impaired student took charge of the piano and played with inspiring finesse. It wasn’t one of the best rehearsed performances of the evening, yet it managed to reinvent the cinematic magic spun by Coppola over three decades ago. To the misfortune of the attendees, it ended on an abrupt note. Cavallaro was about to take a plunge into a clarinet solo but the enthusiastic audience exploded with applause, an unintended reaction that punctuated almost all of the performances, all evening.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 8th, 2015.

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Darjat | 5 years ago | Reply Thank you Consul General of Italy and NAPA - most needed
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