“There’s no jazz, no pop, no rock. It’s much like our own devotional Sufiana”

Notwithstanding resistance from Kashmiri separatists, classical music maestro Zubin Mehta’s Bavarian State Orchestra will perform at the historic Mughal garden of Shalimar Bagh near the capital city on September 7.

Ehsaas-e-Kashmir, the concert that has run into a rough weather with uncharitable reactions from senior separatist leaders Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, is being organised by the German embassy in collaboration with the State and Central governments.

“The preparations for the show are under way,” the spokesman at the German embassy, Nicolas Wagner, told The Hindu. Asked for Ambassador Michael Steiner’s reaction to the reservations and insecurities expressed by the Kashmiri separatists, Mr. Wagner added: “The German embassy is sure there would be a true Kashmir footprint around the concert. As Ambassador Steiner has already said, the concert would be a tribute to the fantastic Kashmir culture and would be supported by the cultural icons of Kashmir.”

The Valley’s santoor icon, Pandit Bhajan Sopori, who is playing a key role in organising the show, along with his New Delhi-based son Abhay, sought to dispel the impression that there was something “political” or “indecent” in the concert. “It’s a huge classical orchestra. There are no electronic instruments, not even a guitar, no jazz, no pop, no rock. It’s much like our own devotional Sufiana,” he said.

Waheed Jeelani, one of the most popular Kashmiri musicians based in Srinagar, said: “Art, culture and theatre are noble fields. They shouldn’t be influenced by politics and vice versa.” Jeelani believes Zubin Mehta’s show would have no negative impact on Kashmir’s political scenario. The day Mehta performs in Kashmir, a five-member troupe of Kashmiri artists, led by Mr. Jeelani, would be holding a show in London.

“If Zubin Mehta is unwelcome in Kashmir, how will they welcome us in Europe?” Jeelani asked.

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