Featuring 25 acts from various music genres, the event, on its opening night, attracted hordes of music enthusiasts from across Pakistan as well as international speakers and promoters from the international community. US Ambassador, Richard Olsen, while addressing the crowds emphasized, “Music has a special power to overcome barriers – regardless of language, geography, or culture.”
The live performances at the Mela defied the cynics who would have one believe that the live music scene is dead in Islamabad, as the audience swayed to the euphonious musical performances throughout the evening.
The Music Mela is a platform to showcase Pakistan’s indigenous music to the world as well as the local Pakistani audience. A brainchild of Arieb Azhar and Zeejah Fazli, the Music Melaaims to revive the live gig and performance prospects in the capital. “Until there are live performances or live music, the Pakistani Music Industry will not thrive,” said Arieb in his inaugural speech.
Pakistan is not the image most fans conjure up when they think of trance, indie, progressive rock or jazz music. The country is primarily known for its qawalis and classical genres. The addition of traditional folk, rock and fusion music along with American and Polish jazz and contemporary artists, the Melaprovided a glimpse into the country’s rich and diverse but underexposed music arena.
With an impressive music line-up, the décor and lightening at the venue also was remarkably done; however there were minor issues with the sound system. Showered in confetti and bursting with excitement, Niaz Khan performed the famous ‘Bibi Shireene’, as the young audience grooved to its melodious tune. Fazal Jutt then took the stage and narrated how the culture of ‘Dastaan Gohi’ (story telling with music) has been forgotten and there is a dire need to rekindle it. Continuing his father Ashiq Jutt’s legacy, Fazal Jutt enchanted the audience with his performance on Mirza and Sahiba. The twenty-minute performance added immense energy to the event as all those in attendance swayed to the beat of the ‘dhol’.
Shamoon Ismail of the ‘Jutt Blues’ fame then took center stage and had the audience on its feet yet again. Krishan Laal Bheel, the talented South Punjabi artist who sings in eight different languages, brought a unique performance from Cholistan. The troupe that had accompanied Bheel displayed an outstanding fire dance that left the attendees dazed.
Polish singer Maria Pomianovska and the American contemporary artist, Grace Mc Lean also electrified the venue with their terrific performances. The first days show concluded with a moving Sufi performance by Hadiqa Kiani.
The second and third days of the event will feature workshops and talks on various aspects relating to music with power packed live performances during the evening. This Music Mela is now an annual feature in Islamabad and is fast becoming a platform to highlight the multi-ethnic culture of Pakistan through its music.
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