Islamabad sings in harmony

Music Mela 2016 draws to a close with performances by local, international artists

The festival featured a mix of folk and pop musicians. PHOTO: MUHAMMAD JAVAID/EXPRESS


To the delight of music lovers nationwide, different cities across Pakistan have been hosting a number of music related events and festivals, perhaps more frequently now than ever before. Adding to the list, the third Music Mela was recently organised at the Pakistan National Council of Arts in Islamabad with various local and international artists entertaining music enthusiasts from the twin cities. Attended by over 15,000 people, the three-day event dedicated to all things music boasted performances by 30 Pakistani and foreign artists.

The Music Mela 2016 was jointly organised by the Foundation of Arts, Culture and Education (Face) and the US Embassy. Some of the most highly anticipated performances included those by Arieb Azhar, Imran Aziz Mian, Ali Sethi, Zoe Viccaji, Noori and Rizwan Muazzam Qawwal.

Music Mela: Diverse performances continue to entertain

Compared to days two and three, the opening day of the Mela was a bit of a let-down. With a much smaller crowd than that of last year’s, the day’s performances were frequently interrupted by delays, technical glitches and mismanagement that forced quite a few people to leave the venue disappointed. Noori’s performance was scheduled for the first day, but unfortunately that too was postponed due to unexpected rain. However, the day was saved by the 25-minute performance by Imran Aziz Mian, who performed three pieces inspired by Sufi poetry.

The second day featured a few interesting workshops including the ‘Song Writing Workshop’ conducted by Ali Hamza, Ali Noor and Arieb Azhar, and the ‘Introduction to Folk Music of Pakistan’ facilitated by Sarmad Ghafoor. The former focused on the basics of composing songs, and the latter was a comprehensive discussion on the leading folk artistes of Pakistan and their respective styles.

Day two also saw spectacular performances by Noori, as well as emerging artists including Abdullah Qureshi, and folk icon Reshma’s granddaughter Gulshan Jahan. For the finale, Grammy-winning American band Grupo Fantasma took the stage by storm and performed their signature ‘Latin-funk’ numbers. The nine-member band entertained the crowd with songs from their highly-acclaimed album, giving the perfect ending to a great day.

Music Mela to start on April 21 in Islamabad

Face Creative Director Arieb Azhar addressed the crowd on the final day of the Mela to express his happiness on the success of the event. “We’ve been so lucky to have such an amazing group of talented Pakistani and international musicians this year, playing genres ranging from folk to rock to pop,” he said. One of the most fascinating performances of the day was that of American sitar player Amie Maciszewski who, accompanied by Riaz Ahmed on the tabla, performed a Punjabi song, much to the delight of the crowd. Zoe Viccaji, who was one of the last artists to perform at the Mela, enthralled the audience with her voice. The singer received a tumultuous applause when she performed her cover of Strings’ hit Mera Bichra Yaar.

The Mela ended on a melodious note, with the quintessential Islamabad weather not failing to lift moods and double the fun. 

Published in The Express Tribune, April 27th, 2016.

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