Pakistani qawwals touring USA dedicate performances to Amjad Sabri

Saami-PEM-standing ovation

Standing ovation for the Saami Brothers after their performance at Peabody Essex Museum, Salem MA. Photo: Beena Sarwar

Wrote this news report the other day.; working on a more detailed report.

Pakistani qawwals touring USA dedicate performances to Amjad Sabri

Legendary classical music maestro Naseeruddin Saami and his sons, currently on tour in the USA, expressed grief at the target killing of their old friend and colleague the renowned qawwal Amjad Sabri in Karachi.

The tragedy took place the day they were to perform in the New York area, towards the end of their nearly two-month long tour.

Amjad Sabri “had only just returned from the USA himself,” said Rauf, the eldest Saami brother.

“He was such a loving, smiling and generous human being who met everyone with love, and quietly supported many families. It has been very painful for all of us.”

The group was going to cancel the performance, but the organisers convinced them to carry on, and to dedicate the event to Amjad Sabri.

They also dedicated their sold-out performance this weekend at the reputed Peabody Essex Museum in Salem to their fallen brother. The event was part of the ongoing first iteration of the “Imagine, South Asia” series showcasing the vibrant traditions of Pakistanthat includes artist Anila Agha’s Intersections installation.

“Pakistan has lost a great asset,” said Rauf Saami. “There will be many musical events but we dedicate this one to Amjad Sabri.”


The Saami Brothers with Naseeruddin Saami, Sona Datta and Nitin Mitta before the performance at PEM. Photo: Beena Sarwar

The event began with a soulful Khayal by Naseeruddin Saami rendered with his trademark delicacy, accompanied by renowned young tabla nawaz Nitin Mitta, the Providence-based tabla player from Bangalore. Mitta has performed at UCLA’s Royce Hall, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Carnegie Hall in New York.

The talented Saami brothers then performed a rousing medley of qawwalis giving the audience a taste of this devotional as well as secular classical music form developed in the 13th century by Hazrat Amir Khusro.

They received a prolonged standing ovation from the mixed audience that included several Pakistani and Indian professionals living in the area. PEM’s Indian and South Asian art curator Sona Datta who organised the event acknowledged the support of Dr Mahesh Patel and his family for sponsoring the event.


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