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Music Mela concludes with much fanfare

The last day of the Music Mela Conference and Festival began amid great fanfare and greater enthusiasm at the Pakistan National Council of Arts (PNCA).

Despite an overcast sky and the occasional droplet of rain, the grounds of the PNCA were filled with families and foreigners.

The Mela has, in a single year, grown substantially spilling beyond the small amphitheatre, to host more than a thousand music lovers. Large multimedia screens flanked a gorgeous high stage showing panoramic scenes from the audience, twitter updates from the tech savvy and of course the performances.

The multi-ethnic line-up of artists was outstanding.

Beginning with a performance by a talented group of Ambassadors who play in a band called Envoys. Romano Karim said of the Envoys, “Noisy and exuberant! And nice to see them break the mould of stuffy diplomats!”

The Envoys who have been performing for charity prior to this, regaled the crowd with a spirited rendition of Brown Eyed Girl. The band of four, consisting of Nedim Makarevic, the Ambassador of Bosnia; Peter Heyward, High Commissioner of Australia; Jesper Moller Sorenson, Ambassador of Denmark and Hiroshi Inomata, the Ambassador of Japan, have a common love for rock ‘n roll.

The Envoys were followed by Sketches, a Sufi Folk Rock, which played Sindhi fusion before an appreciative crowd, setting the stage for Mai Nimani, another charismatic Sindhi whose repertoire consists of Sindhi kalaams of Shah Abdul Lateef Bhittai, Punjabi kalaams of Baba Bulleh Shah and Guru Nanak and other Sindhi folk songs she performs at Sufi shrines.

The picture of US singer Mary McBride who enthralled the audience with her country rock music. — Photos by Khurram Amin
The picture of US singer Mary McBride who enthralled the audience with her country rock music. — Photos by Khurram Amin

Mai Nimani said: “I found the Mela beautiful and I pray that Islamabad is always blessed with these joys.”

Presenting a traditional Ajrak to Arieb Azhar she blessed him for the wonderful service he has done for music.

With a voice that does not quit, Mai Nimani had the audience spellbound. Rows upon rows of people jumped up to sway to her Sufi lyrics.

Ghazala Akbar said: “Coming from the UK I didn’t expect this side of Pakistan. When I come here I go to the village and we never see this sort of gathering where hundreds of people from different backgrounds, even different countries are listening to music, all loving it. My favourite artist was Mai Nimani.

That’s not the normal type of music I listen to but it made me want to get up and start moving.”

Mary McBride in Pakistan for the third time thanked FACE and the US embassy for having her at the festival.

Her country rock performance delighted the listeners but the piece de resistance was her ending with ‘Dil Dil Pakistan’, a song that touches the chords of most hearts in Pakistan.

‘Natural Disaster’ launched Grace McLean and her looping station to play American contemporary music. She then engaged the audience by tossing copies of her cds to a lucky few. She then invited Akmal Qadri the renowned flutist to join her for her penultimate song.

The star of the evening, Sanam Marvi, with her soulful music and voice to rival Reshma, had the crowd on its feet in anticipation.

If a voice can reach the heavens with sheer scale and depth, Marvi has been blessed with that voice.

Moving on from Marvi, the mood of the evening shifted again as Umair Arif came on stage for a performance of classical kathak.

Umair is an exceptionally talented young dancer who has received the Pride of Performance Award from the Government of Sindh for the musical opera ‘Omer Marvi’.

The last performance of the evening was a qawaali by Faiz Ali, a master Sufi qawaal, who comes from seven generations of master musicians, wowed the crowd with his rendition of Sufi poetry.

Nabeel Zia said: “Maula Ali Ali Pir Ay … people going crazy … What a night! What an ending of Music Mela 2015!”

For FACE, the organisers and the sponsors, Ali Turab tweeted for all of us, “Last day but I so want it to be for whole week!”

Published in Dawn, April 20th, 2015