Painted Bride Art center is pleased to welcome Riyaaz Qawwali, bringing their mystical, ecstatic worship music, or qawwali, to Philadelphia for the first time Sunday, October 18th at 7pm.
Qawwali is a 700 year old genre of Pakistani music characterized by lively rhythmic cycles, gripping melodies and a rich mixture of poetry and devotional texts. The members of Riyaaz Qawwali practice the traditionally islamic genre as a means to celebrate the unique diversity of Southern Asia. With original songs as well as poetry from Hinduism, Sikhism, Islam and other religions, these multi-linguistic, multi-faith musicians are bringing qawwali to prominence in America, along with universal message of peace that transcends religious and political boundaries.
With original songs as well as poetry from Hinduism, Sikhism, Islam and other religions, these multi-linguistic, multi-faith musicians are bringing qawwali to prominence in America, along with universal message of peace that transcends religious and political boundaries.
Trained in eastern and western classical music, Riyaaz Qawwali plays a combination of harmonium, dholak, tabla, violin, tambourine, and cajon. Not to mention, the players sing in several languages, including Urdu, Punjabi, Persian, Gujarati, and Hindi.
The ensemble’s 2015 LP, Ishq, is a collection of lyric poems, or ghazals, highlighting contemporary and classic South Asian poets Mirza Ghalib, Amir Khusrow, Bulleh Shah, Mir Taqi Mir, Sant Kabir Guru Nanak, and Tahir Faraz. Each song, or qawwali, begins with a traditional poem and grows into an improvisation or, as the band likes to think of it, a conversation between them and the audiences. The ghazal form typically narrates the journey of the lover-protagonist and the suffering, cruelty, and sacrifices in their attempts to reach the objection of their affection, whether it’s a person or the divine.
While the ensemble’s members variously hail from India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh, the musicians prefer not to divulge their respective last names or spiritual backgrounds for the sake of unity. Sonny, the band’s lead singer and harmonium player, told the Huffington Post, “What I usually hope to avoid is getting into who is exactly from where and who is what religion because I think it takes away from the ambiguity that we really want.”
“I’ve been aware of Riyaaz Qawwali for a while,” says Painted Bride Curator, Lenny Seidman. “When I saw they were on a Mid-atlantic tour, I jumped at the opportunity to introduce them to Philadelphia. I love that the band represents Sufi music, but what’s more, I think it’s exciting and important for these young people to come together to both unify and preserve their cultures.”
Riyaaz Qawwali plays Painted Bride Art Center Sunday October 18th at 7pm. Tickets on sale now. Tickets on sale now—$25 in advance, $30 day of. Click HERE to purchase, or call the box office 12-6pm, Tuesday to Sunday, at 215.925.9914. Members save 30%.