Sunday, November 1, 2009

From Lahore, Pakistan

After two weeks of intense musical activity in Pakistan, sponsored by the U. S. Department of State, my wife, Shubha Sankaran, and I are spending our last day awaiting a television interview by the Associated Press of Pakistan. Between various commitments and somewhat slow Internet access, I have chosen to complete as many assignments (performances, being interviewed, and interviewing) as possible, in giving something of a survey of classical South Asian music and its audience in Pakistan, and planning to post later in more detail once we return again to the U.S.


In Karachi, we were honored to participate in the observation of the 8th Annual Daniel Pearl World Music Days by performing in a concert sponsored by the U.S. Consulate. In addition, we gave a lecture-demonstration at the The National Academy of Performing Arts (NAPA) (their Website is under construction), and after performing at an off-campus seminar of The Aga Khan University (their Website is, we subsequently heard an on-campus lecture on musical fusion efforts between Pakistani and Kenyan artists at, as well as a performance there by both classical vocalists and instrumentalists from a non-profit musical advocacy organization called sampurna (Website also under construction at

In Islamabad, we performed at the National Academy of Performing Arts, as well as in an hour's recorded radio program with Ustad Shabbir Hussain Khan on tabla, and Ustad Allah Lok Qadri on pakhawaj, which was subsequently broadcast nationally on Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation(click here for their Website.)

In Lahore, we performed four times: at the U.S. Consulate; at the opening night of the All Pakistan Music Conference (whose outdoor concerts the following four days in the Bagh-e-Jinnah--where we had performed in previous years--were postponed indefinitely due to security considerations); a house concert sponsored by The Sanjan Nagar Institute of Philosophy and Arts; and a lecture-demonstration at the Institute's English-medium school for girls from lower income backgrounds.

Throughout these two weeks, we were interviewed by various press, radio, and television entities; our appearance on the Dawn television's national morning show may be seen on YouTube in installments one and two.

All of this in an attempt to assist the above institutions in drawing attention to traditional classical music in Pakistan, where that tradition is struggling to survive.

As for folk music traditions, a long morning's visit to Lok Virsa in Islamabad provided eloquent illustration of the vitality of Pakistan's wide variety of rich regional cultures, in which music plays a central role.

From here, we fly tomorrow for a brief stopover, including our concert sponsored by a local Indian music circle, Sur Hindol, in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates--an area to which we've never been before, and which we are very eager to see!

More to come. . . .

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