Energy levels were soaring high, the atmosphere was entrancing. Lahore’s renowned Lums University was booming with tantalizing voices and instruments. The two day event gave a platform to the indigenous voices from Pakistan’s young generation, some of whom exuded incredible potential.
Budding musicians from across Pakistan congregated at the ‘Lums Music Festival’ to exploit the opportunity of showcasing their talent as well as attending workshops given by some of the prominent names of the country’s musical fraternity. Participants included universities and schools such as Beacon house University, Lahore Grammar School, Virtual University, NUST and Punjab College among others, in addition to private participants.
The competition was flagged by solo vocalists competing in the ‘Eastern Music’ category. They sang a variety of songs, ranging from Pakistani pop and rock to Bollywood love ballads. While some were supplemented by instruments others performed without them. The ‘Western Singing’ competition, along the same format, followed suit.
Budding musicians imbibed their mentors’ pearls of wisdom about their craft and the tricks and trades of the world of music.
Omair Jaswal of Qiyaas fame whose song Charkha Naw Lakha met with resounding success in the last season of ‘Coke Studio’, delivered the first workshop of the event.
He spoke of the various styles of singing including his trademark rasp and archetypical howl. He chronicled his journey as a musician and the setbacks he had to face, issuing caveats to audience members about certain misconceptions which according to him some prospective musicians harbor.
The session was interactive in nature and successfully engaged the audience. Questions were posed to audience members about the different modes of singing and they were asked to individually demonstrate what they knew about the skills in question.
Some exercises involved the audience members as a whole; attendees did a vocal practice in unison to prolong the ability to carry one’s voice in a note.
Musical maestro Meekaal Hassan gave the second workshop at the festival. He was accompanied by Zain Ahsan, the guitar player of the popular new band ‘Poor Boy Rich Boy’.
Meekaal deconstructed the various genres of music and shared some of his musical inspirations as well as his perspectives on adopting music as a profession in Pakistan. The founder of the ‘Meekal Hassan Band’ is one of the few musicians with a degree in music. He laid out an in depth and profound analysis while touching upon his experiences at the prestigious Barkley College and how that shaped his musical sensibility and career. Meekaal along with Zain Ahsan also outlined the specifics regarding the use of the guitar, amplifier and the various technical aspects of performing and recording music. All in all, the discussion based workshop was conducted in a way that the queries of audience members steered the session.
Fans of singer Ali Hamza ( from the band Noori) had disappointment in store for them as he was scheduled to do a workshop but unfortunately had to excuse himself at the last minute owing to an accident which took place onstage during one of his concerts.
Music was in the air as the campus reverberated with the melodies of guitar strings and harmonious voices; a musician’s heaven it was indeed. In between breaks, clusters of participants were diligently doing vocal exercises and practicing their allocated songs at various nooks and corners of the college campus, at times helping fellow contestants with their songs and jamming with them; under the trees, outside the canteen and by the cloisters.
There were three rounds of the competition for the three categories; Solo Eastern Singing, Solo Western Singing and ‘Battle of the Bands’.
In the last round, three chosen finalists performed on a large open air stage in front of a crowd. Maeen Abbas Syed from the Lahore Grammar School- Paragon Branch, won the prize for the best Eastern vocalist, Parizae Azhar for the best Western vocalist and Aitchison College won the ‘Battle of the Bands’.
Maeen Abbas in particular stood out for his awe-inspiring, mellifluous rendition of semi-classical numbers including a rousing track originally sung by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan called Sun Charkhay Dee Mithee’ as well as the band Fuzon’s popular song ‘Khamaaj.’ The 18 year-old’s maturity of voice and command over notes marked by dextrous variations, incredibly impressed the judges and audience members alike.
The ‘Battle of the Bands’ was a charged up affair with musicians grooving to rock music whilst audience members swayed, hooted and clapped along.
A concert by Meekal Hassan Band was the perfect ending to the power-packed event which managed to bring together a diversity of young artists with tremendous fire in the belly.
These young musicians presented an encouraging prospect for the future of Pakistan’s music industry. The LUMS music society pulled a commendable feat in promoting the dynamic young talent of Pakistan in a systematic manner.
Click for videos of the festival:
https://vimeo.com/63980657 - Maeen Abbas
https://vimeo.com/63959066 - Mekaal Hasan Band
https://vimeo.com/63930007 - Ali Gul Pir
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