At the time of the history’s greatest migration, along with geographical disorientation, the infant Pakistan was also psychologically lost and depressed. These were dire times when simple survival as a seperate nation was the only priority and arts at such time could not be given much heed. This led to further gloom of the art lovers as well as artists themselves. Apart from radio Pakistan there was no more music in the air. Music lovers reminisced the live music concerts whereas maestros in the field of music started to crumble. At such a difficult time for music in Pakistan it was cocncerned citizens that collectively volunteered to initiate the All Pakistan Music Conference in 1959. Their main objective was to rejuvenate and relive the glory of classical music and arrange seminars, conferences and concerts. (courtesy: www.apmc.info)
Today, 49 years later the All Pakistan Music Conference maintains its poise and is held every year without fail reminding us of the art that breathes in the same ambience as we do. Classical music and dance is in the air of the subcontinent. We can choose to ignore it but not eradicate it.
The remaining APMC Festival 2008 has been postponed but the last of the few events was last month when Hajrah Khan, a Social Sciences Major from Lahore University of Management Sciences read an academic paper on “Urdu Ghazal & English Sonnet” very intricately interlacing the two and reminding us , art has no boundaries, geographical or demographic. The esteemed presence of Shaista Sirajuddin to read out the English Sonnets selected by Hajrah and Dr Arfa Syeda Zehra to recite Urdu Ghazals added to the magic.
The research paper was followed by Tabla maestro Shahbaz Hussain from Manchester, who gave a talk on different components of Tabla(solo) playing again resembling those of an English Sonnet and and Urdu Ghazal. Shahbaz Hussain is a student of Ustaad Allah Rakha’s son, Ustaad Shaukat Hussain and Ustaad Fayyaz Khan. He has also performed with Ustaad Valayat Khan on his last concert in London. Shahbaz Hussain teaches at NewCastle University which happens to be the first university in the world to have introduced a degree in Tabla. Himself being born in the UK, his parents hail from Lahore and so here’s a son of the soil making us all proud of the fact that we share his roots. This event was by far the best account of playing any classical instrument and the accompanying talk (given in English) was surprisingly free of any (greek!) jargon and completely comprehendable by the common man.
The best part was where he told how long ago a girl from Lahore was married into a musical “gharana”(family) in Delhi and her father gave her 500 “gats” as her dowry. Shahbaz also played one of those Lahori Gats in the end.
All Pakistan Music Conference is an association which is truly (and quietly) conserving our heritage and not letting it wash away with the graffiti of all things new.