Organized by the Aligarh Alumni Association.
By The American Bazaar Staff
WASHINGTON, DC: Music lovers from the metropolitan Washington area came in large numbers to listen to mesmerizing performance by Indian ghazal singer Dr. Radhika Chopra at a Shaam-e-Ghazal program organized by the Aligarh Alumni Association (AAA), in Rockville, Maryland.
Dignitaries and officials representing various Pakistani and Indian American community organizations such as the University of Karachi Alumni Association (UKAA), Hyderabad Association of Greater Washington Area, the Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO), and the Smithsonian Institution were in attendance in addition to the AAA members.
Welcoming the artists and guests, the AAA president Dr. FazlurRahman Khan said that the association’s mission has been to bring people of South Asia together and develop a sense of community by organizing quality educational, cultural and literary programs.
“This program is a series of events planned to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Association,” he said.
He also apprised the audience about the hallmark scholarship program of the association that provides financial support to deserving students. He thanked all volunteers, especially Samina Ahmad for their effort to make the program a success.
Chopra and accompanying artists, Humayun Khan on harmonium, Haroon Alam Khan on tabla were introduced by Manjula Kumar, of the Office of the Education and Public Service, Smithsonian Institution, Washington.
In her remarks, Kumar traced artistic lineage of Chopra to legendaryghazal queen, Padma Bhushan Begum Akhtar. Chopra learned the art ofghazal singing in classical style from Shanti Hiranand, the chief disciple of Begum Akhtar.
Chopra started the program by singing the famous Dadra ‘Hamri attariya pe aao sanvariya, dekha dekhi balam hoee jaae’ in Bhairvi style, paying tribute to Akhtar on her 100th birth anniversary.
Chopra showed excellent stamina and endurance during her three-hour long performance. She had specially chosen some new compositions. The ones that stood out were composition by Ameer Khusrau, two ghazals of Faiz, and a classical ghazal of Qadeer Lackhnawi, originally sung by Akhtar.
Chopra took the audience through memory of yesteryears by singing Thumri, Dadra, or songs sung by the golden voices of past, including Surraiya, Geeta Dutt, Noor Jahan, Jagjit Kaur, Mubarak Begum, Kundanlal Sehgal, Master Madan, and of course Akhtar.
She kept the audience engaged and involved not only by her mellifluous singing, but also by her witty remarks and funny comments, displaying an unpretentious sense of humor. She described how much admiration she had for Noor Jahan while growing up in Jammu. In very chaste Urdu, she traced transformation of Akhtari Bai Faizabadi to Begum Akhtar–her real idol in classical style of ghazal singing. It is not very often that one comes across a voice with soul and emotion with meticulous selection and flawless rendition of the poetic words. She was at ease, whether singing classical poetry of Ghalib, Seemab, and Momin, or of modern poets — Faiz Ahmad Faiz and Sahir Ludhiianvi.
The program ended with concluding remarks by Dr. Moazzam Siddiqui. Masood Farshori, the secretary of the association was the Master of Ceremony for the evening.