Classical Music of India and Pakistan BBC Proms


Classical Music of India and Pakistan

Prom representing the three great traditions - the Hindustani music of north India, the Carnatic music of the south, and devotional Sufi qawwali from Pakistan.


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Transcript


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Tonight, we're bringing you some of the finest classical music from India and Pakistan,

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with sitar music from North India, Carnatic music from South India,

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and Sufi qawwali from Pakistan.

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Welcome to the Proms 2017.

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Welcome to tonight's late-night prom

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and we have a very special concert ahead.

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To mark the 70th anniversary of independence

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on the Indian subcontinent,

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we bring you the three main classical traditions of India and

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Pakistan, in a concert beautifully curated by the Darbar Festival.

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SINGING QAWWALI

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In August 1947, 200 years of British rule in India came to

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an abrupt end and there's rightly been much focus

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in public commemoration this year on the horror of partition after

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the British decision to divide the subcontinent into two

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independent dominions - India and Pakistan.

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But tonight, we want to celebrate their shared musical heritage,

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which I grew up with, like millions of people of Indian

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and Pakistani descent, often played late into the night,

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like our concert at the Royal Albert Hall.

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Tonight's audience will see musicians from India

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and Pakistan come together to celebrate the enduring

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power of traditional music and its power to heal and to unify.

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We'll be hearing three distinct sessions,

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each lasting about 45 minutes.

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We begin with a recital on the sitar,

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probably the best-known of Indian classical instruments

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since it was popularised in the West by Ravi Shankar in the '60s.

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It features music from the Hindustani classical

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tradition of North India, and the soloist in tonight's concert,

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in collaboration with the Darbar Festival,

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is one of India's finest and most famous players.

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Here to introduce the sitar himself is pundit Budhaditya Mukherjee.

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SITAR MUSIC PLAYS

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This is the ascending and descending order of notes in Raag Bihag,

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which I have chosen for playing in the festival's concert.

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I think the concert starts around 10 o'clock or 10:15 in the night,

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and this is a typical time.

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The aesthetics of this raag are very much in harmony of the...

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..oncoming late night.

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A raag is a set of notes in a particular ascending order

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and descending order.

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Raags have aesthetics for the daytime, night-time,

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all the hours of the 24-hour cycle.

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When the artist feels the soul of the raag dissolving within

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the consciousness, we as human beings,

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we experience the different feelings.

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But there are so many things we see but we do not understand

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the intricacies, but we feel that, "Oh, wow - look at that.

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"That's so beautiful." What did we understand about it?

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We felt the beauty.

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That's how we go on with our music.

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APPLAUSE

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Well, on stage with the Budhaditya is tabla player

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Soumen Nandy, who adds his rhythmic ingredient later in the performance.

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Here at the BBC Proms 2017,

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Budhaditya Mukherjee plays Raga Bihag.

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APPLAUSE

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APPLAUSE

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APPLAUSE

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An amazing set to the music of the sitar, coiling like smoke

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and spreading its magic across the hall.

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Budhaditya Mukherjee there taking a bow,

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he was on the sitar along with tabla player Soumen Nandy.

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The piece we heard them perform was the Raga Bihag.

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Next tonight, we have what is known as Carnatic music from the south of India.

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Its roots go back much further

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than music in the Muslim-influenced north.

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Indeed, its roots are said to be divine in origin

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in Hindu culture, and we're going to hear two

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of South India's most important melodic instruments - the Saraswati veena and the Carnatic violin,

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very obviously introduced from the West,

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but entirely and delightfully Indianised since then.

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The veena is played by Jayanthi Kumaresh,

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and the violin by her husband, Kumaresh Rajagopalan.

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What you see here is called the Saraswati veena,

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it's the national instrument of India.

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And it has very holy tradition, both mystically and mythologically.

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The goddess, Saraswati, is the goddess of learning.

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She is personified with a veena in her hands.

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This veena is created in the shape of a human body, with the head...

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..the spinal cord, and the lower part of the body.

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The human spinal cord, we have 24 vertebrae.

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And the veena has 24 frets.

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The fretboard is made out of honey bees' wax

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and we have scalloped frets, like a guitar,

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so that we can give what is known as "gamak", which is

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an embellishment which is very characteristic of Indian music.

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So this is how we pull strings and create a continuity between notes.

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When you play the Indian violin, we sit and we use the leg

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and shoulder to support, because there is something

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called a "gamakam"...

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gliding between notes.

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To do that, when you have two support systems,

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the leg and the shoulders, it is easy to do that.

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Tonight, we are going to be doing two interesting,

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very different pieces.

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The second one will be Raag Charukeshi.

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This is special because both the Carnatic system of Indian music

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and the Hindustani system of Indian music play this raga

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and it's a beautiful evening raga, with a very, very soulful mood.

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And the first raga we are going to play today in the evening is Nattai.

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It is a very traditional South Indian raga,

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so we just thought that it will be a very appropriate to

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present that raga in the beginning for the Western audience.

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Onstage with Jayanthi and Kumaresh is Anantha R Krishnan,

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playing the two-headed south Indian drum, the mridangam,

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which he started learning aged just five.

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They're going to play two ragas, starting with Raga Nattai.

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APPLAUSE

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APPLAUSE

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APPLAUSE

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VIOLIN PLAYS

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APPLAUSE

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APPLAUSE

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APPLAUSE

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APPLAUSE

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APPLAUSE AND CHEERING

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CHEERING AND APPLAUSE

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Joyous applause.

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That exquisite combination of melody

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and mystery in the Carnatic music we just heard, of South India.

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That combination of the ancient veena

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performed there by Jayanthi Kumaresh

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and the modern but thoroughly transformed violin by her husband, Kumaresh Rajagopalan.

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And the double-headed drum, the beautiful energy of the mridangam.

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You heard it performed by Anantha R Krishnan.

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Our final session is a very special treat, because we are

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joined by Fareed Ayaz, Abu Muhammad Qawwal & Brothers from Pakistan.

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They sing qawwali, which is a form of Sufi devotional

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music in South Asia, with mystical Islamic poetry.

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Though its roots are Islamic, it's enjoyed for its beauty

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and its spiritual richness all over the world, in the same way

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that you don't need to be Christian to enjoy Handel's Messiah.

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It was popularised in the West by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan,

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and its essence is in live performance.

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Indeed, qawwali is performed at shrines every week, all over

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Pakistan and India.

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Here they are, warming up backstage, ahead of the concert.

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Qawwali is spiritual music.

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It's a sort of spiritual entertainment.

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But qawwali is not show business.

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Qawwali is not singing. Qawwali is praying.

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Qawwali is an exercise to improve your soul.

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In Pakistan, qawwali is very popular, VERY popular.

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A part of Pakistan, India, England and London, I...

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I am travelling since last 40 years!

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So qawwali is very popular.

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Where we are performing, it's a very good hall and very renowned.

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And it's proud of me that I am singing, I'm praying there, qawwali.

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If a person tries to understand the music

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and tries to understand the wording and tries to understand all

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the thing about that particular music, the men become entranced.

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Just like...

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Round into the sky.

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But not the sky, beyond the sky!

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Around the world, all the public are very...disturbed.

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There is no peace in... in their heart.

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I think if they come to this sort of music,

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they take peace.

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Sorry my English is... But we are trying to give you the message.

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Peace, love for all the people. All the humans.

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APPLAUSE

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So, here is Fareed Ayaz, Abu Muhammad Qawwal & Brothers,

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performing a number of pieces of devotional qawwali music for the first time at the BBC Proms.

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THEY SING VERY GENTLY

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HE SINGS WITH EMPHASIS

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APPLAUSE

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Ladies and gentlemen...

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now we are singing Kangna of Malkauns.

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APPLAUSE

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Thank you! Thank you very much!

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Thank you so much. Thank you very much.

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HE SAYS THANK YOU IN URDU AND DIFFERENT INDIAN LANGUAGES

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APPLAUSE AND CHEERING

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HE SPEAKS IN URDU

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This is the time, the second last item of this evening.

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Most powerful item, Baba Bulleh Shah's Mera Piya Ghar Aaya.

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AUDIENCE CHEERS

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CHEERING AND APPLAUSE

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In the last...

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I hope...we have to dance.

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Come on!

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This is the time...

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..of dhamaal.

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CHEERING AND APPLAUSE

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APPLAUSE CONTINUES

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Unique sound of qawwali, Sufi mystical poetry

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and music brought to life, here at the BBC Proms.

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The crowd showing their enthusiastic appreciation for

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Fareed Ayaz, Abu Muhammad Qawwal & Brothers, from Karachi in Pakistan.

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Well, that brings our night of classical music from India

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and Pakistan to a close.

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Whether it's music you grew up with in your family, like mine,

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or it's a new world to you, I really hope you enjoyed the experience.

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Do tune in again this Thursday on BBC Four at 10pm for another

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late-night intimate prom, this time Sir Andras Schiff will be

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performing the entire first book of Bach's The Well-Tempered Clavier.

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That's 24 preludes and fuges, one in every key - definitely an event.

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But from all of us here at the Royal Albert Hall, goodnight.

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To mark the 70th anniversary of independence from British rule and the subsequent Partition of India from Pakistan and Bangladesh, this special late-night Prom celebrates the power of music to heal and unify. Curated by the cultural heritage trust Darbar, it brings together virtuoso soloists and world-leading groups representing the three great traditions of classical music from India and Pakistan.

From late evening into the night, the concert takes us from the Hindustani music of north India to the Carnatic music of the south, and leads to an ecstatic climax with devotional Sufi qawwali from Pakistan.


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