The sound of the sitar never ceases to captivate one’s senses; once the first chords are struck, a surreal and dreamlike calm takes over.
On Saturday afternoon, the Tehzeeb Foundation held a press briefing for a select group of journalists at Cafe 76 in Old Clifton, to announce the upcoming Tehzeeb Awards and Sitar Festival, which will be held May 5-6 at the Arts Council Auditorium.
At the press briefing, Malahat Awan, President of Tehzeeb Foundation said: “For the sake of promoting a softer image of the country, we are trying to explore the possibilities of holding a Sitar festival this year.”
On the same note, General Secretary of Tehzeeb Foundation Sharif Awan said: “This is actually a part of our scholastic effort. Classical music is an art form which has been neglected in Pakistan. Hence, this organisation aims to fuse together and amalgamate Pakistani and Indian artists.”
Sharif Awan noted that the project should have been taken up by Radio Pakistan, PTV or Shalimar Recording studios. “EMI did some wonderful work about 20 years ago, and today we are doing the same in digital format. We have collaborated and interacted with the Indian and Pakistan classical musicians on the same note. What should be kept in mind is that this is not a controversial subject, that collaboration on the basis of promoting arts should take place between India and Pakistan,” he said.
According to Sharif, this Sitar Festival will “expose people to good music, which is an essential element of our lives”, as well as serve as a tribute to Ustad Rais Khan.
Although Sufi music and Pakistani pop music have penetrated the Indian entertainment industry, the fate of classical music still remains a big question. Sharif emphasized that copyright issues need to be addressed.
Malahat Awan added: “The kind of resources which are required need sponsorship through corporate funding.”
Prominent sitar players from all over the world which include Ustad Rais Khan, Farhan Khan, Rakae Jamil, Turab Ali, Sajid Hussain and Beena Raza have been invited to perform at the Tehzeeb Festival. The festival features a fusion by the very talented guitarist Amir Zaki and sitar player Farhan Khan.
Indian musician Suhel Khan will make his debut at the festival. Khan is the eldest son of Ustad Rais Khan. Ashraf Sharif Khan is expected to travel from Germany for the festival.
As part of the Tehzeeb awards ceremony, Ustad Rais Khan will be honoured in the field of classical music, and Babar Niazi and Javed Naizi will be honoured for their contributions to folk music. Asad Muhammad Khan will be honoured for Urdu prose, Zehra Nigah for Urdu poetry and Salima Hashmi for fine arts.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 3rd, 2011.
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