Pakistan’s first Sufi opera singer, Saira Peter on Monday performed at a Sham-I-Mausiqi at the Pakistan National Council of the Arts (PNCA) and sang in many styles extending from tunes by Beethoven to those of Madam Noor Jehan.
Wearing a red outfit and with a big smile on her face, Saira sang in many languages including English, Latin, Urdu, Punjabi and Siraiki. She began with a Sufi opera which was an English interpretation of Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai’s work, was titled ‘Sometimes’ and was from her collection Resplendent.
She sang a Latin Sufi melody also which she said was in regards to the great and awful that occurs in our lives. Ms Peter brought the interesting type of Sufi opera to Islamabad for the third time with her music chief Steven Smith and was joined by a group of local performers including Sajjad Sufi, Salman Adil, Jeeway Laal, Nazaka Ali and Zahid Ali, who were playing the tabla, woodwind, dholak, the harmonium and console individually.
After her Sufi opera songs, she changed to Punjabi and Urdu melodies sung by Noor Jehan including ‘Lat Uljhi’, ‘Chan Diya Totya’ and ‘Chandni Raatein’. Her exhibitions incorporated the verse of Hazrat Baba Buleh Shah also. She told the audience of onlookers she is spreading Pakistani culture of affection, peace and resilience through Sufi poetry.
“I am promoting a delicate picture of Pakistan in the West in their singing style and in their language. I learnt a lot from tuning in to Noor Jehan, Roshan Ara and Ustaad Ghulam Ali when I was a kid,” she said.
Ms Peter included that she was working her second collection in view of the ballads of Hazrat Baba Buleh Shah and Hazrat Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai.