Music Mela 2016 Electrifies Audiences, Unites Cultures

This weekend, Music Mela returned to Islamabad and the Pakistan National Council of the Arts (PNCA) once again became the center of Pakistan’s music world. Jointly organized by the U.S. Embassy and the Foundation for Arts and Culture, and Education (FACE), Music Mela 2016 boasted more than 15,000 fans over the past three days, excited to hear 30 famed Pakistani, American, and global acts.

American band Grupo Fantasma stole the show on Friday night, wowing the packed crowed with their Latin funk sound. Fusing American and Latin sounds with international influences, the nine-member band performed hits from their Grammy Award-winning album, El Existencial. On Saturday night, bright lights shined upon American sitarist Amie Maciszewski as she performed a sitar, tabla, and Indo-jazz fusion ensemble at sunset.

Other headlining acts at Music Mela this year included Noori, Rizwan Muazzam Qawwal, Javed Bashir, Arieb Azhar, Zoe Viccaji, Qawalistan with Imran Aziz Mian, and Ali Sethi. Commenting on this year’s artist line-up, FACE Creative Director Arieb Azhar said, “This was Music Mela’s third year, and it couldn’t have been better. We’ve been so lucky to have such an amazing group of talented Pakistani and international musicians this year, with genres ranging from folk, to rock, to pop.”

The artists led workshops on the sidelines of Music Mela throughout the event for established and up-and-coming music professionals. Grupo Fantasma, Amie Maciszewski, and other musicians joined a panel discussion on music and globalization. Other sessions included a songwriting workshop by Ali Noor and Ali Hamza and a discussion of online music promotion by American music publicist Tristra Yeager.

The U.S. Embassy gives over 100 million rupees annually to support arts programming in Pakistan, including Music Mela. Each year, with U.S. government support, dozens of Pakistani musicians participate in programs like the Pakistani Showcase at South-by-Southwest Music Festival, the Dosti Music Project, and Daniel Pearl World Music Days.

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