A seven-minute composition of veteran Kashmiri santoor player Abhay Rustum Sopori will be performed on Saturday during ‘Ehsaas-e-Kashmir,’ Zubin Mehta’s concert scheduled in Srinagar.Speaking to The Hindu, Mr. Sopori — he hails from an illustrious family that has been performing classical music for nine generations and commands tremendous respect among Muslims and Pandits in the Valley — said the Kashmiri music performance, which will be aired live in various countries, would leave an indelible mark on music connoisseurs across the world.
“Undoubtedly, it will be a big honour for me and most importantly my State of Jammu and Kashmir. I agreed to become a part of this concert because this initiative by the German embassy does not have political connotations. The seven-minute composition will be played before Beethoven and Tchaikovsky compositions by the famous [Munich Bavarian State Orchestra]. It is a privilege that Mr. Mehta will be conducting this orchestra. I am promoting not myself but Kashmir’s contribution to the world of music.”
If the world-famous conductor, who has a special fondness for Kashmir, were to ask Mr. Sopori to play alongside his orchestra, he would certainly oblige him. “As of now, my 15-member team of musicians will be playing alongside the Bavarian State orchestra,” said the santoor player.
Though Mr. Sopori does not show any signs of nervousness before the big event, he is working at different levels to ensure that the mega project is conducted perfectly.
“While the Bavarian orchestra has gone through my recordings, I and my team members have gone through their performances. And I have been interacting with Mr. Mehta on a regular basis.”
Mr. Mehta is scheduled to perform at Shalimar Bagh on Saturday. The concert is expected to have an audience of around 1,500 guests including ambassadors of various countries. However, the concert has faced vehement opposition from separatists, including hardliner Syed Ali Shah Geelani.
Mr. Sopori, however, is optimistic: “In the Valley, I am seen as a son or brother by the Kashmiris. An average Kashmiri wants such concerts. Those who are opposing this concert will have a change of heart once they come to know that my father Bhajan Sopori, who is doing behind-the-scenes work for this concert, and I are part of this event.”
Describing his nonagenarian grandfather S.N. Sopori as the father of classical music in the Valley, Mr. Sopori said: “My father, who was working at AIR in Kashmir, was transferred out of the Valley in 1990. After that, we could not return to Kashmir because of the violence and ethnic cleansing. However, I have been regularly performing there and have received a lot of love and support.”
German ambassador to India Michael Steiner, who has been the driving force behind the event, feels that the magical power of music can cut across geographical, political and cultural borders and succeed in forging a bond with Kashmiris.