Western classical music maestro Zubin Mehta on Saturday transported Kashmir’s music into the global spotlight as the Bavarian State Orchestra enlivened the Shalimar Bagh here with tunes of the Valley’s own Habba Khatoon as well as Beethoven, Haydn and Tchaikovsky.
In a first, a western music orchestra captivated audiences in sync with a 15-member group of Kashmiri instrumentalists — sarangi, rabab, nout and tumbakhnari — and artists from Delhi. Shalimar Bagh, revived after 25 years of hibernation, reverberated with 16th-century melody-queen Khatoon’s ‘Tsoulhama roshay roshay’ and ‘Tse kamiu souni miani’ and held rapt 2,960 people, 2,000 of whom were Kashmiris. Famed romantic poet Rasul Mir’s hits ‘Rind poshmaal gindnay drayi lolo’ and ‘Lalas wantase chhus sawaal’ were played with equal virtuosity as ‘Sat Rang’ — annotated and composed by young santoor maestro Abhay Rustum Sopori for the grand German orchestra. Mr. Mehta, who was welcomed with an enthusiastic standing ovation, lauded the fact that over 2,000 Kashmiris had turned up to hear his orchestra.
“I promise, next time let us do this concert in a stadium. Let all Kashmiris join us”, he said. “We don’t like only a select few, though over 2,000 are over here today,” he added.
At the event, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said in spite of the “sleepless nights” the concert had given him over the months, he would like to see Mr. Mehta perform again in Kashmir: “Tomorrow when the sun rises again it will rise on a land that has seen pain and suffering, a land that is yearning for peace. Today, this evening, for a few hours, let us lift our spirit and lighten our souls and allow ourselves to dream for a peaceful tomorrow.”
VIPs Farooq Abdullah, Salman Khurshid, Saifuddin Soz and Jaswant Singh, besides Mr. Omar Abdullah and Governor N.N.Vohra showed no signs of ennui as the music went on till sunset.