Captain (retired) Muhammad Usman Younis, District Coordination Officer Lahore
Zeejah Fazli, President of the Foundation for Arts, Culture and Education
Distinguished Guests and friends
Assalam-o-aleikum and good evening.
It is an honor to welcome the Ari Roland Jazz Quartet back to Lahore for their third visit. They arrived yesterday at 5:00 am and, seemingly immune to jet lag, have already performed three times, met with students of two different universities, and conducted two radio interviews. We have two more performances and an appearance on Pakistan Television’s “Morning with Juggun” planned for them tomorrow. These talented musicians certainly Page 2 of 6 are making the most out of their time in Lahore, and are contributing to this city’s already vibrant cultural scene.
Tonight we are here to celebrate arts and culture; in particular, a unique product of American immigrant culture. Much of the richness, the variety of American life, comes from the unique experiences of immigrants and their children and from the fusion of those experiences with the broader American culture with which they intersect daily. The Pakistani community in the United States is making its mark on our culture, and Pakistani Americans are helping their neighbors to get beyond the headlines to appreciate the beauty, the heritage, and nuance of your country and culture.
This distinctly American experience—the blending, embracing and re-shaping of different cultures and traditions—is what led to the creation of jazz music. New Orleans, Louisiana, around the turn of the twentieth century, was one of the most diverse and cosmopolitan cities in the world. Immigrants from the Caribbean, Africa, and Europe lived together in the same tightly-packed neighborhoods. Living and working together every day, people and their cultures started to blend and change. It was in this cultural melting pot that jazz was born.
In many ways the arts worldwide are connected by common threads. Much like qawali, jazz is an improvisational art form in which artists shape their music on the spot as the spirit of the moment moves them. If you have never had the opportunity to listen to a live jazz performance, then you are in for a real treat tonight because like qawali, jazz is best experienced live. The artists of the Ari Roland Jazz Quartet have performed in 50 different countries, where they have collaborated with local artists, just as they are doing now in Lahore. Tonight we will see the product of that collaboration as they perform together with three accomplished Pakistani musicians—Akmal Qadri, Kashif Ali Dani and Asad Ali.
With this program we’ve brought an important piece of American culture and history to Lahore. This continues the U.S. Consulate in Lahore’s long tradition of supporting the arts in Punjab. Many of you may have attended other U.S.-funded programs such as Fana Fi Allah, an American qawali group who visited Lahore in 2014 and performed across Punjab in 2013; or Grace McLean and Them Apples, a rock-country band who performed at universities in Lahore last spring; or Fawzia Mirza, who presented her onewoman play at the National College of Arts last year. We look forward to bringing even more such exciting cultural events to Lahore in the months to come.
While these programs bring America to Pakistan, the United States government also funds education and professional exchange programs that afford thousands of Pakistanis the chance to visit our country to study, connect with their professional peers, and learn about the uniqueness of American culture. I think we have quite a few alumni of those programs in the audience here tonight.
The U.S. Consulate General in Lahore is proud to support cultural programs such as the one you are about to see. We hope you enjoy tonight’s show and join us again for future programs.
Thank you for your attention