The “Indus Raag – Collector’s Edition” project has been described as “one of the finest sets of classical music ever released in Pakistan”. The award-winning project has been released in various box sets containing multiple CD’s, including the popular – “Indus Raag – Music Beyond Borders” and “Indus Raag 2 – Karachi Concerts”.
Pakistan writer, culture revivalist, internationally acclaimed curator, and producer of classical, folk and world music Sharif Awan, was awarded a Gold Medal at the ‘Global Music Awards’ in California (June 2016) for the Indus Raag project.
The project has also picked up 2 nominations at the 15th Independent Music Awards as well as being on the 59th Grammy shortlist. It is also important to remember that part of the Indus Raag project was also Pakistan’s first Grammy Entree (57th Grammy Awards).
By all intents and purposes, the complete Indus Raag venture, is a mammoth musical project, which Tehzeeb Foundation patron and music producer Sharif Awan has put together, by fostering collaborations and appearances by India and Pakistan’s foremost musicians on “Indus Raag – Music Beyond Borders”, including Ustad Rais Khan, Pandit Vishwa Mohan Bhatt, Ustad Fateh Ali Khan of Gwalior, Ustad Ghulam Hassan Shaggan, Ustad Naseeruddin Khan Saami, Ustad Bashir Khan and Ustad Mubarak Ali Khan.
Emerging talents such as Akbar Ali, Asad Qizilbash, Karam Abbas Khan, and Mumtaz Ali Sabzal are also present. Accompaniment is provided by musicians of very high caliber – Kamal Sabri onsarangi, Ustad Bashir Khan and Shabaz Hussain on tabla, Nafees Ahmad Khan on sitar, Afzal Khan on the harmonium, and several other talented musicians.
“Indus Raag 2 – Karachi Concerts”, the second album in the series, which comprises more than 10 hours of music recording, features a stunning 65 musicians from Pakistan, India, UK, Germany, France and Turkey. Recorded between 2009 and 2015, the project includes names such as Ustad Rais Khan, Ustad Naseeruddin Saami, Ustad Fateh Ali Khan, Ustad Mubarak Ali Khan, Grammy-winner Pandit Vishwa Mohan Bhatt, the Gundecha Brothers and Ashraf Sharif Khan.
Tehzeeb Foundation’s dynamic husband-wife team, Sharif and Malahat Awan not only organize these recorded events to share indigenous Classical music to the world, but they are also instrumental in bringing classical musicians back behind their instruments where they belong instead of being buried in dismal jobs, or at worst surrendering to depression an illness.
Through the Tehzeeb Foundation, Sharif Awan – the only producer from Pakistan with membership of the Recording Academy of the Grammys – has been recording and releasing the musical repertoire of Pakistani artists for over 20 years, with his chief goal being to preserve and promote classical music traditions. The “Indus Raag 2 – Karachi Concerts” is themed around the melodies, rhythms and sounds of the mega-city, Karachi, which is a host to several diverse ethnicities.
South Asian classical music is, by and large, based on melody and rhythm. It is intuitive and also spontaneous. Its oral origins can be traced back nearly two thousand years whereby, unlike the notation method used in the West, the ragas are taught, directly and painstakingly over time, by the guru / ustad (teacher) to the chela / shagird (disciple).
Furthermore the instruments are apparently extremely difficult to record in live situations, due to how they resonate under differing ambient settings. However The Indus Raag project continues to painstakingly capture the mastery of the players as well as the rich and extensive palette of sounds on display.
The confirmation of such came when Sharif Awan took the concert recordings to Abbey Road Studios in London for final mixing. He was told by the Producer that he would not change a thing about the recording!