Musical night a poetic entertainment
By Jamal Shahid
ISLAMABAD: There was creation of mystic imagery and spiritual dialogue, and quite simply, Wednesday`s musical night was sheer poetic entertainment.
A vocalist of mesmerizing melodies Ustad Shafqat Ali began to croon khayal followed by thumri, bandish, dadra, kafi, ghazals making music profound and enjoyable.
His vocal flexibility and range had generated immense respect among listeners resting against pillows and cushions sipping hot green tea in the Lok Virsa auditorium.
As musicians tackled all the challenges of their stringed instruments Ustad Shafqat Ali`s voice ascended and swooped as if riding air currents. The musical instruments sought similar undulating flight paths and fingers fluttered like humming birds across the tables. And the event was even more remarkable for the great appreciation from the audience for the singer`s tonal purity and melodic exquisiteness.
Respected as a leading vocalist of classical and Sufi music of Pakistan hailing from Sham Chaurasi Gharana, Ustad Shafqat Ali Khan was more at home in the pristine heights of upper octave than at any other and listeners swayed in ecstasy. No seemed to be in the mood to return home though the time was fleeting.
Ustad Shafqat belongs to the eleventh generation of the Sham Chaurasi Gharana founded in the 16th century by Mian Chand Khan and Mian Suraj Khan believed to be contemporaries of Tansen at the court of Mughal Emperor Akbar.
Ustad Shafqat Ali`s father Ustad Salamat Ali Khan and uncle Ustad Nazakat Ali Khan, the maestro of classical singing, belonged to the tenth generation of the Sham Chaurasi School. Shafqat began performing at the age of seven. He has performed throughout the world and has received numerous awards.
In 2009, the president of Pakistan conferred on him pride of performance award in recognition of his talent. His father Ustad Salamat Ali Khan was twice the recipient of the same award and also received Sitara-e-lmtiaz.
Originally it was one of the three “dhrupad” schools of Punjab whose singers also started performing “Khayal”. The musical style of Sham Chaurasi Gharana is dynamic and robust, particularly rich in “ghamak tanas”, the heavily oscillated fast note pattern sung towards the end of a Raaga. Around the the 20th century, this Gharana was represented for his dhrupad singing. His sons, Ustad Nazakat and Salamat Ali Khan, were to become particularly well known for their duet singing.
After the independence of India and Pakistan in 1947, Ustad Vilayat Ali Khan (Shafqat`s grandfather), who was noted Salamat Ali Khan`s family moved to Pakistan and settled in Multan (the city known for its Sufi saints). There they learnt “Multani Kafi” and perfected the art of delivering Sufi poetry.