‘Classical music returns, only to fade away’


LAHORE: On the last day of the All Pakistan Music Conference (APMC), the public mood was eager but slightly downcast; the four-day long musical journey was now coming to an end. The festival at the Alhamra Arts Council had drawn in crowds of devoted classical music listeners, some of those who would stay from beginning to the end of the concert.
Music festivals like APMC are a serious method of promoting classical music culture in the country. Considering that there are only a handful of people who have the knowledge of this ancient form of music in the history of the subcontinent, music shows that demonstrate and actively support this form of art are very important for its preservation.
The public that had slowly begun to gather in the Alhamra Arts Council viewed their opinion regarding classical music. “I was never an avid listener of classical music,” said Rabia Ali, a student of Fine Arts. “But after I came here and heard this music being played live, I was awestruck by its power! It has truly affected me.” “Classical music is enjoyed to its limit when it’s being played live,” said Amjad Javed, a listener.
“Of course there is a huge difference in watching a person sing, watching his or her movements and facial expressions, and body language…that sort of thing explains a lot about what is being sung, especially the mood. Shows like these ought to be arranged more frequently.” Some others who agree with these views are at the same time more influenced by the charisma of the musicians who come to perform.
“I never thought I would hear such wonderful musicians and vocalists in reality,” says Sameena Ahmed, a school teacher. “I do follow classical musicians overall, but there are so many hidden talents in Pakistan, which have emerged on this platform, that I was left surprised.”
“To see such huge musicians, such as Ustaad Habib-ur-Rehman, Iqbal Bahu, Krishn Laal Bheel, and others is a privilege,” said an art lover. “These people are often underrated and are not given so much media coverage. And because of festivals like APMC, these musicians are automatically given attention,” he said.
It is true that with the skills they possess, they are not given the due attention, but what is more significant is that they are introduced and their presence is encouraged in public. A student even suggested that if student bodies collect some cash they could easily organise such concerts in their institutions.
An aspect that the public appreciated was the inclusion of the students’ competition. “It was an original idea, and revealed the kind of talent that the Pakistan music industry will face in the upcoming days, provided that these students take their singing and playing seriously,” says Wasif Hussain, a college student.
“Students’ talent needs to be encouraged too, and if these shows become more frequent, then we will also have more chances of making this into a profession.” Only one small complaint was voiced; a few people felt that there should be lesser artistes who perform each night so that the show wraps up early, and that each performance could be given more attention. “This was how it was happening in Karachi,” says a member of the audience.
But organisers differ. “What they say is true, but we prefer the inclusion of more artistes rather than having only a few,” said an organiser who stays backstage during the performance, “It’s about promoting art, not reducing it to a minimal.”