ISLAMABAD, Jul 10 (APP):Pakistan’s first and only opera star and the world’s first and only Sufi Opera singer Saira Peter blew away the audience gathered at a book launching ceremony in central London.
Saira opened the evening with a gorgeous original Sufi Opera number, “Sometimes”, an English rendering of Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai’s poetry. It felt like a new day had dawned as she sang on the nature of the Beloved, who calls his seekers by name and opens doors to them. Her husband, the music director and ethnomusicologist Stephen Smith, provided flowing piano accompaniment, said a press release.
The tempo warmed up with “Morey Mann Mein”, this time a traditional Urdu version of Latif’s famous song of the same name. Saira’s excellent band joined in, with veteran accordionist Victor Gaga providing superb fills and qawwali tabla player Aslam Ali holding down a steady beat. A predominantly English audience filled the room to capacity and could not resist swaying along with the hypnotic groove.
But this was just the start –Saira then kicked off an up-tempo Sufi medley that grew faster and more complex with each passing note. Starting with Hazarat Shah Hussain’s Punjabi kalam “Mahi Yaar di Gharoli” / “Jhoom Charakhra” she soon had many in the crowd dancing, while others shook their heads in amazement at the technical prowess on display. Just when it seemed things could go no faster, Saira shifted seamlessly into perhaps the most famous sufi kalam of all, Shahbaz Qalandar’s “Dhamaal”, and everything went hyper-speed. One wondered if the
entire crowd might suddenly fall into a trance from the music’s power, as Saira’s mesmerizing voice jumped from one octave to another.
At the end of the event Saira sang Latif’s Sindhi poem “Parchan Shal”, and Bhuleh Shah’s Punjabi epic kalam “Bhanwey Jan a Jan”.