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23 February 2012 07:14 am

Music helps bring cultures together

QNE
QNE
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The universal language of music has the ability to transcend cultural divisions and promote mutual understanding in a unique way, according to two of the musicians taking part in the ‘Global Fusion’ concert this evening. The concert, organised by Bank Sarasen-Alpen and Alpen Capital, brings together musicians and artistes from all over the world, showcasing their musical traditions, but also demonstrating how they can be brought together for a common purpose. The leader of the group is Indian musician, Niladri Kumar, a sitar player known for his unusual style of music called ‘Sitar Funk.’ He developed the style while touring during his younger days, and he spoke about some of the experiences he had in a number of western countries, highlighting the impact that his music had on people who may otherwise not have heard a sitar in their lives. “To be very honest I think it is probably the only and the best medium in today’s times, where if you want to have a collaborative effort between people from different cultures and parts of the world, music is probably the shortest and most common language spoken in the world,” he said. Music removes so many of the obstacles to communication and understanding, and musicians tend to have a sensibility which helps them show compassion and empathise with other people as well, argued Kumar. “It’s not easy-to-do music which is meaningful to everybody, but it’s not impossible,” he said, explaining that the high level of musicians involved in the concert means that working together and combining the very different sounds is both possible and successful. He encouraged young people in Qatar to get involved with music, to help them develop their personal skills: “You learn about life, you earn about communication skills, you learn about emoting your feelings through the only medium you know, which is music.” Kumar has been to Qatar on a number of occasions in the past, and has enjoyed each visit so far. “Here it is a special crowd, with an eclectic mix of people and cultures, and they have an idea of what to expect and they also don’t know what not to expect, so this is a special place,” he added. Qatar is being represented in the concert by the well known oud player, Ibrahim al-Haidous who also spoke about the way he has seen different cultures being brought together through the appreciation of music. Al-Haidoos has been playing the oud for some 47 years, and has amassed a large number of television and radio performances during that time, which has also seen him perform his music to audiences around the world. However, he expressed his concern that fewer young people seem to be interested in taking up the traditional Arabic instrument these days, and are instead more interested in singing. He hopes to see this change in the future, but was unsure how to create this shift in interest, except to explain that he has enjoyed being a musician and all the wonderful experiences to which it has led. Al-Haidous said that he was pleased to see the emphasis that the local authorities are placing on culture, and expressed gratitude at the way in which they are supporting his career. He also said that he was very pleased to be taking part in the event, and was enjoying the opportunity to play alongside musicians and instruments of which he has no prior experience. “It is very good,” he said, highlighting the Alphorn as one of his favourite new instruments.This is a great group, and it is very interesting bringing together these musicians and instruments from different backgrounds, he added. Gulf Times