Arif Lohar to perform in New York
NEW YORK – Describing himself as ‘a fakir and a safir’ (a wandering mystic and a cultural ambassador), famous folk singer Arif Lohar says he is using music as a bridge to promote understanding between Pakistani and American people as he tours the United States.“I feel that it is very necessary at this critical time. It allows us to gather people together, using art as a bridge, to extend our hand in friendship to Americans, and to share our love and our wish for peace,” Lohar said in an interview with the New York Times. “The world over, the language is music,” he said.
“The styles are different, the nuances are different. But the language is the same. I am here representing my country and my culture. I have connected with people, and it feels so good to connect in that way,” said Lohar, who is set to perform at Asia Society in New York Friday night – the show is sold out.Lohar has been touring the United States as part of Caravanserai, a tour bringing traditional Muslim performers to mainstream American audiences to share their artistic heritage and to challenge stereotypes, the Times said in a report published Friday.
“The mission of Caravanserai is very beautiful,” Lohar was quoted as saying in the Times. Caravanserai was put together as a multiyear project by the nonprofit group Arts Midwest, and began last fall with Pakistan as its first focus; next year it looks at Morocco, the report said. The shows in New York this weekend also intersect with one of Asia Society’s own series, Creative Voices of Muslim Asia. Both programmes are supported by the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art, it said.In the interview, Arif Lohar said after his father, Alam Lohar who died when he was 13, and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, who died in 1997, Michael Jackson as one of his biggest influences.Caravanserai, which in addition to Lohar and his group includes a young Pakistani-American singer, Arooj Aftab, has mostly been playing to audiences unfamiliar with the culture, the Times said.
At each stop the musicians have been holding workshops with schoolchildren and community groups, as well as soaking up local customs. Last week in Helena, Lohar celebrated his 46th birthday in a hotel lobby. Lohar’s tour is only the latest of many efforts at cultural diplomacy since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the report said.