Daniel Pearl World Music Days: Slain journalist's life celebrated through music

Published 05 Oct, 2015 10:20am

Nighat Chaudhry and Faheem Mazhar honoured the slain journalist through modern and traditional Pakistani music and dance

An ensemble of musicians performs at the National Art Gallery in Islamabad — White Star
An ensemble of musicians performs at the National Art Gallery in Islamabad — White Star

ISLAMABAD: The life of slain journalist, Daniel Pearl, was celebrated at the National Art Gallery (NAG) on Saturday night as part of an international event, the Daniel Pearl World Music Days.

The programme included stirring performances of poetry, music and dance.

The event, titled ‘Harmony for Humanity’, demonstrated the importance of the arts in promoting peace, tolerance and mutual understanding.

Lahore-based choreographer Nighat Chaudhry and composer Faheem Mazhar brought together contemporary and traditional Pakistani music and dances to signify that unity and harmony can develop out of conflict.

The performances were part of the 14th annual Daniel Pearl World Music Days which have been held in October since 2002 to celebrate the life of US Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, who was killed in Pakistan.

The event has grown into a world-wide celebration, which uses the power of music to reaffirm global commitment to tolerance and humanity. Since its inception, the affair has grown internationally, with more than 13,400 performances in 138 countries.

Last night’s performances will be followed by two days of dance workshops organised around the theme of peace and tolerance.

They will be led by Nighat Chaudhry, who has been working with students across Islamabad to build a performance demonstrating the powerful role of dance and music in promoting mutual understanding.

Last night’s event commenced with a brief welcome address from US Ambassador Richard G. Olson, who had known Daniel Pearl personally.

He said: “He was a journalist who wanted to show the world the reality and met a premature demise in his attempt to tell the truth. He was a warm person and a gifted violinist. We bring this night of poetry, music and dance to celebrate his life through music.”

The performances began with a musical recital titled ‘Integration’ by composer and vocalist Faheem Mazhar.

This was followed by two more renditions by the singer, which were humble and tuneful. The first, ‘Disintegration and Awakening’ was blended with Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s ‘Bol: Speak Up’ which was translated in English.

His second performance, ‘Chaos of Construction’ was accompanied by a live qawali performance and the English narration of Babah Bulleh Shah’s poetry.

The audience saw a mesmerising performance, ‘Re-Integration’, which was Khattak dance with live music.

A performance titled ‘Celebrating Oneness’ came last with a recital of Rumi’s poetry paired with tabla.

Nighat Chaudhry’s works are anchored in techniques of time honoured dance styles. In an age where anything goes in contemporary dance, Ms Chaudhry’s choreography is like attending a symphony concert and finds a place in your heart.

Her movements and those of her accompanying dancers were a thing of beauty and one felt almost liberated while watching the performances.

Published in Dawn, October 5th, 2015