Remembering a maestro: Sufi music aficionados enthralled

Published: July 7, 2013
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Shafqat Ali Khan, with his three sons, enthralled audiences with classical melodies. PHOTO: MYRA IQBAL/EXPRESS

Shafqat Ali Khan, with his three sons, enthralled audiences with classical melodies. PHOTO: MYRA IQBAL/EXPRESS

ISLAMABAD: While following his father’s lead, twelve-year-old Nadir Ali Khan seemed nervous but at the same time, a pat on the back would restore his confidence and together they enthralled audiences at Kuch Khaas on Saturday.

Khan was accompanying his father, Ustad Shafqat Ali Khan, the son of late Ustaad Salamat Ali Khan, at a musical evening organised by the Institute for Preservation of Art and Culture (IPAC) to pay homage to the renowned Khan of the famed Sham Chaurasi Gharana, a style of classical singing that has won national and international recognition.

Khan was accompanied by his sons: fourteen-year-old Faizan Ali Khan, twelve-year-old Nadir Ali Khan and fifteen-year-old Arif Ali Khan. On the tabla was the legendary Kashif Ali Daani, and together they created a melodic atmosphere wherein the audience, seated on the floor, were swinging to and fro.

The sound of the various musical instruments was amplified by the classical style of singing, leaving the audience in the dimly lit room engross in melody. While some were bobbing their heads, others were tapping their fingertips to the beat.

The occasional “Jugalbandi”, where the vocalist competes with the beat of the tabla, further heightened the night. The singer would challenge the beat and pitch for higher notes which were phenomenal and entertaining.  Some of the classics performed included “Lagi reh manwa mein chot” and “Laye kari”, among others, which completely captivated the audience.

Speaking to The Express Tribune, IPAC Chief Executive Officer Umair Jaffar explained that Ali had successfully learnt the unique style of singing from his father and is now making sure that the family legacy continues by training his children.  “This is like any other on the job training” he said. The family of classical maestros had migrated to Pakistan from eastern Punjab in India and has continued their classical renditions, he said.

Speaking to The Express Tribune, Canadian Denis Chouinard said it was inspiring to learn about their family history. “The sounds they produce are mysterious and new but at the same time I can feel things when he’s singing,” he said, adding that “I admire the transition of the family art from one generation to the next”.

Musician Arieb Azhar said that to appreciate such music, a certain taste needs to be developed. “It is not for everyone” he said, adding that this is the most refined melodic music that cannot be found anywhere in the world. “This music goes deep into the philosophy of life, their presence here is an honour for Islamabad,” he said.

Jaffar said IPAC is reinforcing culture for the new generation’s consumption. “This is the only way we can preserve classical music” he said, adding that “our younger generation should be encouraged to accompany their parents to such events so they learn about our heritage and customs”.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 8th, 2013.

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