KARACHI: Shakespeare said it best — “If music be the food of love, play on.” And the concert titled ‘Sangat’ took this thought forward at the Beach Luxury Hotel on Thursday where a stellar ensemble comprising musicians from across borders came together as one.
With the three-year musical exchange between the National Academy of Performing Arts (Napa) and the Butler School of Music at the University of Texas at Austin coming to an end, the musical display showcased the varied exchanges that have taken place between students of both institutions.
Sangat (association) was the theme of the musical evening, and the musical notes that comprised each arrangement were an ode to the journey these students have been on — of a musical nature as well as of a personal one.
The interesting arrangement onstage was that no particular musician was given centre stage; in fact each individual had a role to fill without which the arrangement would have been incomplete. The holistic arrangement gave space to each performer for self-expression, while still remaining part of a whole.
"The evening ‘Sangat’ is a wonderful example of music without borders, as different musicians coming from different backgrounds are directly communicating together.”
Saxophone player Lee Redfield was one of the more recognised crew members of the ensemble as he has taken part in several different collaborations with Napa students as well as with the Pakistani band Raahi. This was his third visit to Karachi.
Several compositions played throughout the evening were by legendary sitar player Ustad Nafees, who is also a Napa faculty member. ‘Musica Senza Confini’ (Music Without Borders) was one such composition.
According to Sonia Seeman, who is associate professor of Ethnomusicology at the Butler School of Music, and was playing the clarinet, “the evening ‘Sangat’ is a wonderful example of music without borders, as different musicians coming from different backgrounds are directly communicating together.”
‘Musica Senza Confini’ was beautifully arranged by Chris Ozley.
Another musical composition was by Stephen Slawek called the ‘Raga Hansadhvani’. Slawek is a professor of Ethnomusicology at the Butler School of Music.
The masterful vocals by Intezar Hussain who is a vocals teacher at Napa had the audience enthralled and the evening was a delight to all those present.
The aim of the Napa-UT exchange is to support the arts and culture of Pakistan and allow different musical interpretations to seep into its existing milieu, while at the same time taking inspiration from its musical traditions.
US Consul General Brian Heath welcomed and expressed his delight on building the people-to-people ties between the two countries.
“This exchange will help develop Napa programmes in areas such as vocals, orchestration, piano, voice, string instruments, music composition and conducting,” he said.
Representing Napa were Intezar Hussain, M. Ahsan Shabbir and Nadir Abbas on vocals; Arsalan Pareyal on the guitar; M. Waqas Gulab on the tabla; Stephen Chaman on piano; Kishwar Ali on bass; and Abeir Shan on African drums.
From UT Austin Butler School of Music, Chris Ozley on drums; Eddie Hsu on flute; Julia Dixon on cello; Lee Redfield on saxophone; Laura Jorgensen on vocals; Prof Sonia on the Turkish clarinet; and Franklin Pilander on the tuba.
Originally published in Dawn, March 18th, 2016