For the students of the National Academy of Performing Arts (NAPA), their graduation ceremony was far from the conventional fare.
Held at the Arts Council on Wednesday evening, around 30 graduates of the academy’s fourth and fifth batches were brought together to highlight the expertise they had acquired over three years in different genres of the performing arts.
While Sindh Governor Dr Ishratul Ebad Khan was meant to be the chief guest at the ceremony, he couldn’t make it because he’s travelling abroad on official work. However, he did congratulate the students in a message that was read out by the NAPA president Zia Mohyeddin.
The performances kicked off with a felicitously welcoming tarana in Gorakh Kalyan – a late-evening raga – sung by Ahsan Shabbir and Nadir Abbas with four other students on backup vocals. A mellifluous sitar jugalbandi on the Charukeshi raga was played by Dr Kholod Shafi and Waqas Gulab. Ustad Basheer Khan’s students Alan Simon and Gulab performed exciting variations of Teentaal in a tabla duet that had the audience cheering throughout.
A group of students headed by Erum Nafees also performed Amir Khusro’s ‘Keh Mukarniyan’ but it was a qawwali performed by Nadir Abbas and other students that stole the show.
There was also a selection of Western music. Arsalan Rabbani offered a soothing piano performance of Greensleeves and Arsalan Pervaiz, a student from NAPA’s guitar studio which picked up the pace on “Room 335” – a popular number composed by Larry Carlton.
Institute of Business Administration Director Dr Ishrat Husain, who was presiding over the convocation in lieu of the governor, conferred the degrees and diplomas on the graduates. “I congratulate the parents who provided the opportunity to their children to take up performing arts as a profession and fulfill their dreams,” said Dr Husain. “They [children] have their own aptitude and taking away the aptitude from them means taking away their life.”
Mohyeddin said that without giving due respect to the performing arts, no society in the world could be termed civilised. “Following the establishment of this academy, theatre has been promoted not only in Karachi but is getting respect across the country,” he said.
A faculty member at NAPA Ahsan Shabbir told The Express Tribune that many students who arrive at the academy to learn music or theatrical arts quit their studies midway. “Most people join just out of a momentary stimulation or fascination but with time when they find it as a difficult medium they drop out,” he said. “By the end of a course only those remain who have firm resolve with talent and passion.”
According to Shabbir, the arts and entertainment industry has a strong impact on new students’ choices and interests. “With the emergence of Coke Studio, for example, many young people are coming with demands to learn classical Eastern music even on Western instruments,” he added.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 13th, 2012.
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