In the span of less than a week, earlier this month, my wife and I were treated to three very different musical performances in three different venues and each of them was remarkable in its own way. An important privilege, one may say, to have been present in Muscat when these three events took place and to have been able to attend and partake of these musical offerings. Hideki Togi, a Japanese Gagaku player and his colleagues (including his sister and mother) held us in awe for two hours on the night of October 23rd in the Oman Auditorium in the Al Bustan Palace Hotel; a team of musicians and performers from Pakistan, Egypt, Syria and Uzbekistan transported us to the world of mysticism and divinity on October 20th in The Royal Opera House and on October 18th, Shreya Ghoshal belted out filmy numbers to regale a 4000 strong crowd in the Qurum Amphitheatre.
An ex-colleague of mine, who works with the Japanese Embassy and who perhaps knew of our interest in music had passed on an invitation from the Japanese Ambassador to attend the Gagaku performance by the Togi family. This family has a tradition of Gagaku (ancient Japanese court music) which can be traced back to more than 1,300 years back!! While Gagaku has three sections consisting of the wind, string and percussion instruments, Hideki Togi, his sister and mother enthralled us post interval with the three wind instruments: Hichiriki, Sho and Ryuteki. Hichiriki is a bamboo flute with a reed and nine finger holes and is said to express the voice of the humans; it is considered as the predecessor of the oboe. The Sho has seventeen bamboo pipes and can be played by blowing or inhaling. Japanese tradition believes that the sound of the Sho expresses a ray of heavenly light. Ryuteki is a bamboo flute with seven holes and its sound is supposed to be representing the sound of a dragon that flies in the space between heaven and earth. When these three instruments are played together, it is believed that heaven, earth and everything between merge to create a divine oneness. It truly was a blissful experience to hear the Togi family perform in unison in the stillness of the auditorium. In the first half of the programme, there were other Japanese artists who played on the percussion and string instruments and ably prepared us for what was to follow. All that we could say to our hosts in the end was: Arigato Gozimus!!
Ever since we had seen the performance of the Whirling Dervishes a few years ago at one of the Karavan Serais in Central Turkey, the mysticism associated with Sufiism had appealed to us. I had booked in advance for this programme at the Royal Opera House. Although I would have been content at just watching a performance of the Whirling Dervishes, what we witnessed was much more than merely that. The Whirling Dervishes act put up by the Syrian artistes came in towards the end and served as a fitting finale for the journey which lasted for over two hours. As they gracefully moved round and round with one hand outstretched towards the heavens and their dress spread outwards, the calm on their faces seemed to convey that they were in communion with the Almighty. The same bliss was observable on the face of the 22 year old Egyptian lad who came in at the beginning of the first half and the second half narrating Inshad, which I presume stands for Islamic Divine Poetry. He had a mellifluous voice and a gentle smile was on his lips which seemed to indicate that he was aware of how much the audience was in awe of his recitation. Other performances included a passionate singing and dancing by Pakistani folk artist Sain Zuhoor, soulful singing by Uzbek artist Yulduz Turdeiva and a sterling performance on percussion instruments by two Pakistani brothers, one of whom is both deaf and mute. Accompanying the percussion performance were three dancers who twirled their heads and flowing hair as though they were in a trance; a few of my friends were actually quite scared that some accident may befall these dancers! Such was the frenzy associated with the dancers and their movements that the audience was virtually stunned by the performance! All that we could say to the organizers in the end was: Shukran Gazeelan!!
On October 18th evening, all roads in Muscat seemed to be leading to the Qurum Amphitheatre. As the thunder and dark clouds threatened to disrupt the programme earlier in the evening, the organizers and the prospective viewers prayed hard enough for the clouds to waft away. We enjoyed Shreya’s performance and her child-like demeanor on the stage even when she was singing sensuous numbers (Jadu Hai Nasha Hai from JISM)! She began with the lilting melody of BODYGUARD (Teri Meri), but in the absence of the male singer, she sang for both the male and female voices (original male voice: Rahat Fateh Al Khan). The portion sung in the original by Rahat Fateh cannot be sung by anyone else because of the wide variation in the pitches and Shreya seemed to falter in those areas. But she quickly recovered and when she came on to Chikni Chameli, she was back in her true form. One of my friends pointed out that since a majority of Shreya’s successful numbers are duets, it would have meant much more if she had a very good partner on the stage to share her singing. My wife and I were delighted when Shreya, switching to regional languages, started out by singing a beautiful number from the Kannada film, Mungaru Male. All said and done, it was an enjoyable evening, at the end of which, we rose in gratitude saying : Dhanyawad!!
And as we usher in November, there is more music to follow. Kailash Kher, who is well known for his Sufi style renderings will be performing on November 7th at the Qurum Amphitheatre. That will be another evening to remember and if you haven’t got the tickets till now, you better rush!!
October 29th,2012

About The eternally happy Vijay

A cheerful person who loves watching and reviewing movies and indulges in random writings!
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