Classical Music Program at Pakistani American Culture Center
By Dr Waheed Siddiqee
Milpitas, CA: Pakistani American Cultural Center (PACC) organized a classical music program
on Saturday, April 4. Two young Pakistan Americans - Kamal Hyder and Ferhan Qureshy - were the guest artists on the occasion and enthralled the audience with their performance.
Kamal is an accomplished sitar player and Ferhan is an outstanding tablist. After being introduced to the audience, Kamal explained briefly the basics of classical music and the techniques of sitar playing. He and Ferhan then played a composition in an afternoon Raga. The interaction between sitar and tabla was fascinating. The audience was thrilled as the tempo gradually increased and a lot of jugalbandi (question-answer) took place between the sitar and tabla before the finale.
Next, Ferhan explained the unique features of classical tabla rhythms and various styles (ghranas) of tabla playing. He then presented an excellent composition in Teen Tal (16 beat rhythm) with many complicated variations and occasionally saying the bols (phrases) of tabla before playing on tabla. The audience enjoyed the performance tremendously.
As the last item, Kamal and Ferhan presented another afternoon Raga on sitar and tabla. It was also most enjoyable and greatly appreciated by the audience.
Delicious snacks prepared by Pakistani families were served at the end.
K amal Hyder started learning sitar at the age of eleven from prominent musicians, including Ustad Ashish Khan (nephew of the late Pandit Ravi Shankar), Partho Chatterjee (prominent disciple of the late Nikhil Banerjee), and Ustad Shujaat Khan (son of the late Ustad Vilayat Khan). He has performed in the US, India, Greece, France, and the Middle East, and has been recorded in six CDs so far.
Kamal has been working in the high-tech industry in the Bay Area for over twenty years. During this period, he has kept up his interest in sitar playing while pursuing a corporate career, an MBA degree, and authoring of three technical books.
Ferhan is a senior disciple of the legendary Pakistani tabla maestro, Ustad Abdul Sattar Tari Khan. Prior to training that he continues to receive from Ustad Tari Khan, Ferhan took his initial lessons in Indo-Pak music theory and practice from Surinder Singh Mann. Ferhan studies the Punjab gharana (musical style) of classical tabla, which both of his teachers represent, and has accompanied many distinguished classical artists (vocalists, instrumentalists and dancers) both in the United States and in Pakistan.
Ferhan has worked in the biotechnology industry for the past 15 years and is currently the Associate Director of Assay Development and Manufacturing at Crescendo Bioscience in South San Francisco.
(The author is a trustee of Pakistani American Cultural Center)