I used to tell my listeners that Qawwali music was not music made by cute little furry Australian arboreal creatures, but rather, sufi gospel music from Pakistan.
A few weeks ago I wrote about my discovery and experience with the late Qawwali master Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. When Nusrat passed away in 1997, he left a musical vacuum, which his then-teenage nephews committed themselves to filling. The result is Rizwan-Muazzam Qawwali, whom you can catch downtown this Saturday, August 22, at Grand Performances.
Like their uncle, Rizwan-Muazzam Qawwali have recorded several albums for Peter Gabriel’s iconic Real World label: Attish: The Hidden Fire (1998); Sacrifice to Love (1999); A Better Destiny (2001); and Day of Colors (2004).
The term, Qawwali, means ‘utterance’ and has long been part of Pakistan’s sufi musical culture for over 800 years. Sufism is the mystical sect of Islam that posits music as a gateway to the divine. It’s a belief system far removed from the Islam that is intolerant of music, such as what we’ve seen in Iran, Northern Mali, and Afghanistan. In fact, it is just the opposite. Qawwali music is transcendent, bypassing cultural and language barriers. It’s an intense, heartfelt, soulful and ecstatic music.
Thanks to the Doris Duke Foundation’s generous underwriting of Grand Performances’ Re:Arranged—Muslim Cultures Illuminated, a two-year cultural exchange program showcasing “South East and Central Asian Muslim artists, from mainstream pop stars to revered traditional masters.” Rizwan-Muazzam Qawwali come to Grand Performances this Saturday, August 22, as part of a free series of Downtown concerts in the beautiful California Plaza Water Court. In addition to performing their own work, it’s going to be an exciting night of cross-cultural collaborations with British DJ/producer Neil Sparkes. Click here for more information.
Additionally, as part of this week’s programming, Grand Performances invites you to a free 2:00–3:00PM Qawwali workshop (same location, before the 8:00 PM show) this Saturday, August 22, for those of you interested learning to sing in the style of. Rizwan-Muazzam himself will share his incredible vocal techniques, sung to sacred music and the accompaniment of harmonium!
Rizwan-Muazzam Qawwali singing a sufi chant made famous by Nusrat Fateh Khan (it’s on his album, Devotional Songs). Stay with it for a minute, and you’ll see how intense it gets.
DJ and producer Neil Sparkes and the Last Tribe.